Sunday, December 21, 2008
I love Christmas. And you probably do as well. I don't imagine I'm alone in my affinity for this time of year.
I'm a nostalgic guy and I spend more than enough time in my head. Thinking about things. Remembering things. People. Sometimes it's the road not taken. Sometimes it's just walking down a road and revisiting old places and people.
What is it about Christmas that finds me more and more inside my head?
We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas a few weeks ago. And I remembered being a kid watching it and feeling sad that I didn't live in a place where there was snow on the ground. Growing up in Florida, we didn't have seasons. There was no fall. And there was no winter. But from my Family Room, ALL Christmases, except for ours, were celebrated in snow. Even McDonald's commercials celebrated winter wonderland scenes as requisite for Christmas.
Ours was warm. Muggy. Humid. Dense.
Which made me think I was missing out. I'm not saying that Charlie Brown and McDonald's are the reason I eventually moved to the northwest, but surely in the recesses of my mind, I unwittingly succumbed to the romanticized version of Christmas I'd been fed by my television.
And yet, snow and icicles, snowmen and roaring fires have as much to do with Christmas, the true reason for Christmas, as Santa Claus and his goofy little reindeer.
Sorry if that pops a balloon.
I was telling some friends the other day that I think I enjoy thinking about going to Disney World almost as much as I enjoy going to Disney World. The times we spend in our house planning a trip, talking about where we want to stay, looking up pictures of different places on line, reading the menus, all of that is a lot of fun. Almost as much as actually being there. Maybe even more so. Because in the planning, there are no tour groups, there is no rain, there is no such thing as favorite ride being rehabbed, your resort's counter service restaurant being reconstructed. Nothing smells bad. In your head, it's ideal. Romantic.
The snow covered Christmas scene in my head is the same way. It's pretty to look at. It evokes images of a warm fire with bulging stockings hanging on the mantle.
That's the romantic vision. The reality is far different. We've been in a snow-covered cold snap now for a week. It's pretty to look at but stressful to contend with. The roads are covered with snow and ice. Which means my car has remained parked and I've been driving Mrs. Z's 4wd SUV. And while I've been able to get where I need to be, my assistant has made only sporadic appearances in the office. Worse still, Mrs. Z and the little Zs have been unable to get out of the house. So I've had to do the shopping. Run the errands. Stand in line at the post office. And while Mrs. Z and the girls have gone with our neighbors to play in the snow in the park, Mrs. Z hasn't been able to attend any of the things she normally does during a week.
ZZUBY and I have been out playing in the snow, sledding off our front hill, down the long sidewalk to the park. Throwing snow balls at de Schpup! And it's all fun. I love that part. But the anxiety about whether a mediation will go forward, whether witness meetings will take place, whether we'll lose power, is lurking somewhere below the surface. As such anxieties often do with me.
So I reckon snow and the winter wonderland really isn't very Christmassy after all.
I'm sad by how far removed from Christmas this time of year has become. ZZUBY and I were in Lowe's last week and all the Christmas stuff was already down. Put up. I reckon when you start selling the stuff in September, by December 15, it's enough already. In other words, Christmas isn't about the celebration of Jesus' birth: it's just a marketing season.
The miracle of Christmas, that God sent His son to be born of a virgin, to be birthed among animals, to live and to die as the sacrifice for our sins. How did this get so mixed up with trees and presents, candy and lights, ornaments and fireplaces and yes, snow? When the story is beautiful and pure, simple and sacred, why did we layer on top of it the things of this earth which couldn't have anything less to do with Jesus?
I'm not anti-tree and I'm not anti-snow, but in the ways we celebrate Christmas, we've got to hearken back to our Savior. His humble birth. His ultimate death for our sins.
The world is spinning faster and faster anymore. There are hundreds of things competing for our attention. But maybe in this time of year, for a few days, we can resist those temptations. Maybe we can locate the sheer wonder and excitement of the shepherds, who upon hearing the good news, "came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger." (Luke 2:16 NASB).
Like us, the shepherds were in a hurry, too. Only they ran to Jesus. And there they found salvation.
Posted by ZZUB