We’re still not taking Christmas down. At least not all of it.
We need to hang onto a few things. Here are some things that should bleed over into our lives from Christmas, and keeping a few decorations out might just help us remember.
The beauty of Christmas
The wreaths, the garlands, the stars, the bells and ornaments, and, of course, the lights. The lights bring a twinkle of the starry night to everything, as if at any moment, the sky would part and the angels would break out into singing. Christmas simply makes everything a little more beautiful.
I don’t think we have enough beauty in our lives. Beauty is appreciating the everyday, but also dressing it up because it deserves to be. Look at how God has clothed the mountains and the hillsides and the lilies of the field. They don’t even work at it and they display His beauty. My wife is committed to maintaining her beauty. She invests time and money into it. We don’t question this. It is a part of what is. Beauty is a value with God. At Christmastime we make things beautiful; why not keep that up?
The attitude of Christmas
This is primarily the attitude of giving, and it is all about what we call Grace Turned Outward. We do not keep God’s gifts to ourselves. That is not what they are for. They are to be shared, given out, passed on. Other people benefit from God’s gifts to us. God’s gifts to us are not for us, but for others. Nothing ever stops with us except the buck. God’s gifts keep on giving.
And Christmas is also the attitude of joy. Joy to the world. Finding joy and taking joy are tasks that deserve attention all the time. Life passes us by or it is celebrated. Celebrate the ordinary. These things don’t just happen. They take a certain amount of conscious decision-making and some planning. I spent at least four hours in the car yesterday with Chandler and his girlfriend. Did we just pass the time or did we take joy?
The character of Christmas
There is a certain formality to Christmas. It has something to do with both of the things discussed so far, but it manifests itself in subtle ways. Charles Dickens was a master at capturing this character and making it true year-round. It is hard to pinpoint, but it is what makes gentlemen gentlemanly and women lady-like. Our culture is too dressed down. We are all way too frumpy. This is where we present ourselves with some care and forethought.
I used to dress for work in a shirt and tie even when I was working at home. I did it to maintain a focused attitude and announce to my kids that I was “at work.” There just may be something to that.
The following quote comes courtesy of Gail Hatch. It’s a good one. Thank you, Gail.
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the peoples,
to make music in the heart.
– Howard Thurman 1985