Un-Christmas

A few years ago, my wife and I decided that we needed to change our Christmas traditions. Our daughter had grown to an age where belief in Santa Claus was not an issue, and we felt that getting up on Christmas morning with unwrapping packages the foremost thought in our minds was not the proper way to approach the day.

Regardless of the time of year Jesus was actually born, we’d come to feel that our priorities were out of balance. So we instituted “Un-Christmas”, which we’ve celebrated for the last four years.

Simply, Un-Christmas is whatever day we feel like opening whatever gifts we’ve collected for one another. It can be any day in December prior to Christmas. This year, we got Un-Christmas out of the way on December 1. That’s it for the holiday gift-giving at Gilbert House; no more, we’re done.

It’s given us a unique perspective on the holiday season in America, especially this year, when the forces of secularism and political correctness are achieving great success in banning from the celebrations the One for whom the celebration is named.

Frankly, I’m sick of the holiday season already, and Christmas is still three weeks away.

The slide of America into paganism is disturbing, yes, but I have to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ: How much of what we do at this time of year truly honors our Lord? Does God care whether Wal-Mart posts a 10% increase over sales for the same quarter last year? Is your salvation affected if all the icicle lights don’t work? Or if they don’t get hung at all?

We are nowhere commanded in scripture to set aside special days for feasts and festivals. The early church fathers thought so little of commemorating Jesus’ birth that the actual date was lost in the mists of history. The Puritans who settled America actually made celebrating Christmas illegal! There is, in fact, good evidence that the late December celebration was an outgrowth of the Roman Saturnalia, which itself was based on the ancient Babylonian worship of Tammuz.

See Ezekiel 8 to get a sense for what God thinks of that. (And Jeremiah 10:1-5 for what might be His opinion of Christmas trees.)

The modern American Christmas is not an ancient tradition that stretches back through the centuries to the apostles. It’s about as old as major league baseball. Whatever Christmas was, once upon a time, it’s been hijacked by pagans and secularists.

Let’s face it: There is little about Christ in Christmas. There never was.

I don’t know why this weighs on me so heavily this year. There’s an anxiousness in my heart as I see the frantic preparations of people trying to assemble lights, trees, and gifts–especially gifts–into a “perfect” Christmas.

Maybe I’m still reacting to Nick & Jessica’s Family Christmas.

My wife made a wonderful observation today as we talked about the insanity of the holidays in modern America. With the stress of the season already behind us, she said, “It’s like being the only sober people at a party full of drunks.”

Dead on.

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