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Christmas season in America is not for the weak or fragile.  The schedule for the season moves up to warp speed with many additional activities.  The serious celebrant could use a personal assistant to make sure that all of the gifts are purchased, wrapped, and have the right names on each…the various “food needs” have been met and preparation will be done ‘on time’, and that all of the travel is coordinated, lodging is confirmed, cards have been mailed, invitations either “sent’ or “replied to”, and somewhere in the midst of all of that, there is time with family and close friends.  We realize that Christmas now is a far cry from two, working-class, young people arriving in Bethlehem at night for the young woman to have a baby 2000 years ago.  Through the centuries, many have tried to eliminate the hubbub of Christmas by eliminating Christmas itself.

Many years ago the Puritans thought that the society was ruining Christmas with all their pagan rituals. They especially objected to the fact that the holiday usually came on a week day, therefore distracting people, they thought, from the Lord’s Day of Sunday. But they did more than annually complain about it as we do. They took action and got rid of Christmas altogether. In Puritan settlements across 17th century America a law was passed outlawing the celebration of Christmas. The market place was ordered to stay open for business as though it were no special occasion and all violators were prosecuted. It was against the law to make plum pudding on December 25th. The celebration was not referred to as Yuletide but as “fool-tide”.

Puritans heaped contempt on Christmas calling it ‘Fool-tide’ and suppressing any attempts to celebrate it for several reasons. First, no holy days except the Sabbath were sanctioned in Scripture, second, the most egregious behaviors were exercised in its celebration, and third, December 25 was ahistorical. The Puritan argued that the selection of the date was an early Christian hijacking of a Roman festival, and to celebrate a December Christmas was to defile oneself by paying homage to a pagan custom.  (Wikipedia – CHRISTMAS IN NEW ENGLAND).

So we want to reform Christmas and clean it up? Well, how far do we want to go? Do we really want to be rid of it altogether? Would that really, as the Puritans thought, save Christmas from our present style of celebrating and our carnal behavior done at Christmas in the name of the birth of the Son of God?  Probably not.  If we spend  about $630 billion annually on presents, is it not because we spend it on gifts for those we love? Most of them are just that. And, what if all the lights and tinsel do create a fairy tale setting that soon disappears as does the so called Christmas spirit? At least it lets us know, if only for a brief time, what life can be like if we only try to lavishly give to demonstrate our love for each other.

So let the message ring out this day, not that our poor behavior is destroying this holy day, but rather, that we can never destroy the real meaning of this day. “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be for all generations. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.” (copied). 

You’ve almost got it all done.  Folks will be arriving soon.  Take a deep breath.  You have done your best to prepare.  The house looks great.  The tree is perfect! The presents look so pretty. Pray with thanksgiving that you had the energy to get this done “one more time”.  Thank God that you have those you love that make the rush worth it.  And, thank God for the incomparable gift of His Son that is the true meaning of Christmas…this year and every year!