Christmas is my favorite secular/religious holiday and I celebrate it with abandon.
The older I get, the less I let little things bother me. I dont have the energy it takes to get upset. I know a few things about Christmas, but dont really make a big deal about them.
Jesus was not born on Dec. 25, even if the line from the song says Marys boy child, Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas day.
It is common knowledge among most Christians that, because of fourth-century worldwide acceptance of Christianity through the influence/demand of Constantine, the first Pope Julius sanctified the pagan holiday of Saturnalia as the Feast of the Nativity.
I also know that contrary to our manger scene, the Magi didnt visit Jesus in the manger. Matthew 2:11.
I am ever grateful to Charles Dickens, who, in his 19th-century novel, popularized the acceptable greeting for December. However, I cannot get upset with someone who wishes me well with some other greeting besides Merry Christmas.
The transliteration of the Greek letter chi, which Christians throughout the centuries have used instead of Christ, to the English X doesnt not concern me in the least. Spelling does not take Christ out of Xmas, peoples priorities do.
I am not demanding promotion to curmudgeon status, let me assure you, I am celebrating birth of the Savior.
Just as Jesus birth sometime in the first decade B.C. came at a time of great turmoil in Judea, it seems as if, when preparing for Christmas celebrations in the 21st century, we notice the drama, crisis and turmoil. We want our holiday celebration to be a carbon-copy of that fictitious Norman Rockwell Christmas painting, but we are sadly disappointed.
Health, economy, weather, families going separate directions all add to the circumstances that turned our much-hoped-for celebrations into three-ring circuses. Murphys Law is the rule of our existence. There are seasonal disasters that are well publicized. House fires and criminals combined with travel inhibited by winter weather will derail a lot of well-organized plans.
Over the last few decades I am learning the best way to celebrate Christmas is in a non-pressured way. We love making Christmas goodies, but we dont worry if we dont get to everything we want to make. We like giving gifts to people, but we do not get all worried about finding that perfect gift.
The message that keeps me going in an imperfect world is the same message that many centuries ago came to some shepherds:
But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11.
The eternal message is that I need not fear, no matter what my lot, because of the birth of the Savior.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
Belarmino is a crisis chaplain with the Assemblies of God Disaster Response Task Force. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org