By Scott McBean
In being asked to write about Christmas joy, I debated on taking this little article a variety of directions. As Christians, we always try to convince ourselves that the “true” meaning of Christmas really lies in celebrating Christ’s birth. The “true” meaning of something, though, does not come from how we talk about it. Instead it comes from the type of significance we assign to it mentally or emotionally (not that there is necessarily a distinction between the two).
In all honesty, Christmas, the way I historically celebrate it, means spending time with family. Part of this means exchanging thoughtful gifts that serve as a demonstration of how much one person cares for another. Should Christmas have something to do with Jesus? Absolutely. Does that happen in the way I practice it? Maybe in a roundabout way, if I’m lucky. The reality is, regardless of the original intentions of whoever invented CHRISTmas, for me it centers on family. I suppose that if you are going to substitute something for Jesus, family may as well be that thing. Family brings joy, right? Well . . . sometimes.
About a week before I’m scheduled to visit home I always get excited. I want to hug my parents, kick my brother’s ass in basketball, and play with my dog. If this is all family meant, then going home for Christmas might be a joyous occasion. However, seeing family also means telling old stories that may, or may not, be funny. It means arguing over restaurants and group activities with that one person always getting his or her way. At Thanksgiving it meant my sister introducing me to her new boyfriend by calling me a name so offensive and hurtful I later cried about it when telling someone the story. My point is that while talking about Christmas joy is a great thing to do, sometimes it ignores the reality of what Christmas actually means for many. It may just be a powerful cocktail of disappointment and anxiety. I really want to end this little “article” with a way of solving this problem.