Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Executive Director
It’s always a bit jarring that as soon as December 25th passes, we very quickly attempt to erase Christmas in a number of ways. First, we attempt to erase Christmas from our homes which have been so beautifully decorated for the season. Ornaments are placed back in their boxes, the lights are removed from the tree and rolled up for another year, the tree skirt gets folded, and the tree itself gets disassembled and stored away for another year. The wreath is taken from the front door and the nativity scene is packed away and placed on the top shelf of the closet once again. Every scrap of wrapping paper is tossed away and every cardboard box is flattened and taken to the curb for recycling.
Some debate about how long the decorations should remain in place. I have a friend who absolutely refuses to let any trace of Christmas remain when the calendar flips to the new year. I know others who just get around to un-decorating the house whenever the mood strikes. Last year, because of my recovery from double-knee replacement, some of our decorations stayed in place till mid-February. This year I resolved to do better. Most of our decorations and Christmas trees, yes trees with an “s”, were packed away before the dawning of the new year.
We also attempt to erase Christmas from our waistlines. Let’s all be really honest… most of us do not eat with a lot of discipline over the holidays. The cookies are too good to pass up. The homemade chocolate covered cherries can’t be allowed to go to waste. The Hawaiian rolls with ham and honey-mustard seemingly call out from the refrigerator. And so most of us start the new year with the resolve that we are going to do better. We dump the sweets and get on the treadmill as though we can erase two weeks of undisciplined eating in just 20 minutes of walking. By the way… have you had any of those Cheryl cookies? So good, right? My wife made an Orange pound cake this year. Needless to say, it’s long gone.
We even attempt to erase Christmas from our bank accounts. Because we tend to overspend a little, most of us get down-right cheap during the month of January. We scrimp and save every penny, vowing to erase the Christmas-caused deficit from our accounts. As quickly as we can, we attempt to act as though Christmas never even happened.
There is a special feeling that comes with Christmas… it’s a gentle grace, a sense of generosity, a spirit of benevolence and sharing that we don’t seem to experience during the rest of the year. During the Christmas season, we resolve to have more patience with long lines and weary salespersons. We give a little extra to organizations that help the poor and needy. We send cards to old friends. Somehow the Spirit of the Season just makes us a little better, a little more compassionate, maybe a bit more thoughtful. However, the problem with the Christmas Spirit is that we tend to pack it away with the decorations. The joy fades and the kind attitudes dissipate far too quickly.
Why does that happen? Why is Christmas erased so soon? Maybe it’s because of what we have done to Christmas. Rather than join in the sheer celebration of the Savior’s birth, we buy into a frenetic mentality that insists on making sure we have the right gifts, the right food on the table, or the right names of the card list. We’ve made Christmas into something that we must endure, rather than something we can’t help but enjoy. So, do better. Don’t pack away the Spirit of Christ with the rest of the decorations. Resolve to love with extravagance, give with generosity, forgive with abundance, and serve with great fervor. It’s what Jesus expects you to do, not just during the month of December, but every day of the year.