It’s over. The boxes are put away, the toys put together, the egg nogged and the halls undecked. We’re done with Christmas. For those Kringle-lovers, there is always next year, and the way our retail stores plan ahead, the decorations and sales will be back around April.
In the Smith household, this was the first year spent watching numerous Christmas cartoons and specials for the kiddos. I am relatively sure at this point that every animated character in history has in some way “saved Christmas.” This is the formula:
1) Characters anticipate Christmas.
2) Santa falls into some sort of distress/broken sleigh.
3) Characters are called upon to get Santa up and running or deliver presents themselves.
4) Characters come through.
5) Christmas is saved from ruin. The villagers rejoice.
So what does this tell us about saving Christmas and what it would look like for it to be ruined?
As I sat back in my reindeer sweater sipping cider this year, I tried to observe a few central components of what it means to “Save Christmas” from ruin. For many of us, including myself, Christmas is about anticipation. What are we going to get? What do people want us to give? I can’t wait to be with family. I can’t wait to get away from family. Will it snow? What will happen this year? Will Christmas come through?
The world waits in anticipation for what Christmas will bring.
There is nothing wrong with anticipation. I always love the holidays and all the seasonal goodness they bring (“Jewelry is the gift to give ‘cause it’s the gift that’ll live and live!”). But anticipation is like setting up a snowman. We decorate and plan in our minds a picture of what will be, knowing it will eventually melt away and will never really come to life the way it does on TV.
We look forward and forward, but is that what Christmas is for?
As our church family celebrated the Advent season, each week we looked at Peace, Joy, Love, Hope and ultimately Christ. Peace, Joy and Love are positioned to give us our hope, which is in Christ. Hope is forward-looking.
But that seems backward at Christmas. If Christmas is about celebrating an event – God with us in the flesh, Emmanuel – the Light shining in the darkness, then shouldn’t Christmas be about reflecting instead of anticipating? Can Christmas be saved or ruined if it’s already happened in full?
Granted, as Christians, we always anticipate the coming of Christ. But as we finish another Christmas, let us remember, Christmas is always finished. Christ has already come. He has lived, died, and been raised (start unpacking the Easter eggs). It is finished. Our salvation is complete. We look forward to no other Savior. He has come.
So what’s my point? Christmas is often a holiday of what will come. If one of those things doesn’t materialize, Christmas didn’t succeed. We are disappointed. But Christmas is a holiday of celebration for what has already come. It can never be ruined or fall short because it is complete. We celebrate what is done. In that way, Christmas always comes through.
As we begin a new year and pack Christmas away, let us not look at what was finished a few weeks ago, nor anticipate what will come about next year. For Christians, Christmas should never contain disappointment.
Let us always look back at what was accomplished 2000 years ago and celebrate not the anticipation of Love, Peace, Joy, and Hope, but that we fully have all these things in Christ. No broken sleigh can ruin or save that.