Romans 6: 23b (the Message) But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.
There is a special joy wrapped in the preparations and decorations of Christmas but a feeling of dread in the finality of packing them up and putting them away. There is a cozy feeling in the magical glow of the lights, the beauty of the ribbons and greens, the warmth of the candles, the memories in each ornament and the inspiration of the music. However, every year it seems these decorations go up earlier and earlier. This year, I walked into the store to buy Halloween candy, and the Christmas sections were already aglow with the lights, trees and decorations. Even the radio stations began playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving. We were bombarded with the commercial Christmas long before we began reading true Christmas story in church.
Then on December 26th, everything changed. In the stores, all the Christmas decorations were piled in unattractive displays, plastered with sale and 50% off signs. The Christmas music came to an abrupt stop and secular songs wafted through the air of the malls and stores. Santa thrones sat empty where just days before throngs of children and parents stood in line to see the bearded fellow. The fancy Christmas decorations were taken down and packed away for next year’s frenzy. The neighborhood streets were dimmed with the absence of white and colored lit trees. Even my own home began to feel cluttered with open gifts, dusty nativities and withering evergreens.
The suddenness of this transition seems to distract from the true meaning of Christmas. Why are the preparations and decorations for the Christmas celebration emphasized far greater than basking in the afterglow of Christmastide? When in fact, the historical celebration of the twelve days of Christmas begins with Christmas day and ends on Epiphany, January 6th. Why do most of us traditionally begin decorating and celebrating early in December and then dismantle our trimmings by New Year’s day? Does this mean that we stop celebrating the meaning of Christmas because the decorations no longer adorn our mantles and doorsteps? Or has this routine become part of our Christmas celebration?
When I thought about this, I thought about how God sent His son Jesus to bring the gift of eternal life to all people. We honor and remind ourselves of God’s gift of Jesus in the many ways we celebrate and decorate throughout Christmas season. It seems to me that the celebration of the New Year has become part of this tradition. For God’s gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ. This gift comes when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
Christmas involves both parts, putting up the decorations for the celebration of the season, and then removing the Christmas decorations to prepare for the new year. Just as I was filled with anticipation for all the celebrations and traditions the Christmas season brings when I put up the decorations, there is a sense of renewal and new beginnings when I take down my decorations.
So as I put away each ornament and wind up each strand of lights packing them away for next year, I relish in reliving this year’s memories. Joyful memories created in celebrating the joy of Christmas with my loved ones. And as I clean up and restore the house for the new year, I am focusing on Christ’s gift of new life, Romans 6: 23b (the Message) But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.
Cleaning my house of all the seasonal trimmings are as much a part of my celebrating the gift of the Christ Child as putting them up in anticipation of the season. It is time that allows me to focus on the ways that I can be born again and grasp the opportunities the new year brings for new beginnings and to grow closer in my relationship with Christ.
Dear Lord, Help me to treasure the memories of the Christmas season as I take down the decorations and put them away for next year’s celebration. But help me to also see how this routine and preparation for the New Year is not an end to Christmas, but a continuation of the gift of new life you offer to me through Your Son Jesus. Amen