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Merry Christmas???

Don’t you just love Christmas?  What a marvelous time when we enjoy parties with friends, time with our family, special musical presentations, glorious decorations everywhere, enough food consumed to feed an army for months, shopping for gifts while the sales prices are in effect, and blowing up the internet ordering gifts from “on-line” retailers to avoid the crush of crowds in the stores.

We see Christmas movies “old” and new.  Each family has that certain place that has become a tradition for everyone to visit during Christmas to see lights, or a neighborhood that you frequent because the festive illuminated displays are ever more extravagant.

Children line up to see that “Jolly Old Elf” dressed in red and has the girth of a well-fed American that promises to get everything to “good little boys and girls” that they have requested.  Mom dons her “super woman” attire so she can do all of the shopping, cooking, decorating, coordinating, planning, and execution of “the best Christmas ever” in addition to the full-time job she works daily. 

Cities have their own Christmas parades with floats that remind us of various aspects of Christmas.  Some will show Santa’s helpers working in the toy shop.  Others will have a 19th century group of carolers dressed in vintage attire standing at a front door singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.  And, civic organizations will provide those that throw candy to the children as they make their way through the parade route.

Schools refrain from the word Christmas so that children are not infected with any reality of what the meaning of the season truly is.  So, school boards have approved a “Winter Holiday” with snow-flakes (not referring to the children, but cut-outs of what falls from the sky), snow men, and songs about sleighs and grandma.

Modern Christmas seems to have everything the average person could want in this 21st century.  Today, we have finally arrived at the new era of a sanitized, secularized, and hedonistic version of our society that is relished at Christmas.  The talk is of how much money the stores will gross, how many Americans will travel over Christmas, and the morning talk shows give instructions for those who are dieting what they can safely eat to keep weight gain to a minimum.

But it seems that something is missing.  If I had no knowledge of the meaning of Christmas, I would think it has been mis-named.  It should be called “Santamas” or “Wishmas” and not Christmas.  Christ is nowhere to be found unless you sneak into a church during the month of December.  And, even then, not all churches tell the greatest story ever told.  It would seem that in all of our festivities, we have lost Christ.

In 1629, when the favorite wife of Indian ruler Shah Jahan died, he ordered that a magnificent tomb be built as a memorial to her. The shah placed his wife’s casket in the middle of a parcel of land, and construction of the temple literally began around it. But several years into the venture, the Shah’s grief for his wife gave way to a passion for the project.

One day while he was surveying the sight, he reportedly stumbled over a wooden box, and he had some workers throw it out. It was months before he realized that his wife’s casket had been destroyed. The original purpose for the memorial became lost in the details of construction. They built the Taj Mahal, but they forgot the reason for the building. They forgot what their mission truly was!  (Dr. James Dobson, Coming Home, Timeless Wisdom for Families, (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton; 1998), p. 122)