I was at a shopping mall a couple of weeks ago and it took me totally by surprise to see Christmas decorations already in the works - Santa's winter wonderland was almost complete, with snow, a few reindeer and even a huge red chair ready for Santa. Of course, I'm used to seeing these things a little before Thanksgiving (which has always mildly disturbed me), but this was a few days before Halloween, for heaven's sake!!!
Well, after I got past the initial confusion (am I really seeing this??! Wait a minute, what is today's date???), I could feel myself starting to get a little angry. But fortunately, I caught myself.
I decided to take a deep breath and instead, to try to enjoy the early reminder that Christmas is on the way. And sure, I was well aware that what I was seeing was all about consumerism, but let's face it, the giving and receiving of gifts is our traditional way of celebrating Christ's birthday. And the problem isn't the gift-giving, it's that we get all caught up in the "holiday" spirit and start celebrating the idea of Santa's, sleighs, candy canes, reindeer, etc. (including the spending of extraordinary amounts of money on extraordinary amounts of "stuff" including gifts), and we forget why we're celebrating in the first place. It's nothing new, it's the same old same old. And we catch ourselves playing the game year after year.
Well, I made a decision right then and there at the shopping mall. I decided to rejoice and be glad that our Savior's birth has been the impetus for such incredible celebration. After all, there's no other "holiday" like it. So I decided to enjoy and give thanks for all of the secular "hoopla" surrounding this holy season instead of being at least a little bit ticked off about it. And the fact that the celebration has begun earlier than ever this year? Well, it just gives me a little more time to be grateful to God for caring enough about us to come to us personally.
So bring it on!!! Christmas carols, wreaths, elves, jolly old St. Nicholas, ugly Christmas sweaters - all of it! And the earlier the better. But let's not forget to bring out the manger scene, the Wise Men, Mary & Joseph, the animals, and the baby Jesus too.