There are so many words inside me today that I am having trouble putting a coherent thought together. I want to write about what Christmas is to me. Not what it means but what it really is to me.

December 25. There are trees with decorations and lights. How about a wreath with cedar and holly and ivy? Yule logs, Santa and his reindeer. Presents (let’s not forget those!) Stockings. Cards. Candy canes. Bells. Movies. Carols. There are enough things that remind us of Christmas to make your head spin.

But–and I have a big one here–none of these things matter. Most of them are actually pagan symbols that have been adopted over the years after the Church adopted the winter solstice as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. He was probably born in the fall (again not that it really matters).

Over the last several years people have been screaming about a “War on Christmas”.
I can’t believe people could possibly have enough energy to debate such a subject. From where I stand I believe that any religious symbols that are presented in a public forum should be removed (except in situations where there is some sort of historical relevance.) This is not in an effort to be politically correct. I just don’t think that taxes should be used to fund something so personal.

So how should we, to employ an overused -ism, keep Christ in Christmas? That is for each person to decide privately. In your own home and in your own heart. Personally, I have spent some time in the Scriptures this year, by myself and with the monsters. I decided to pare down the gift giving by giving more personal homemade gifts or donations. Spending time reading special Christmas stories to the monsters and talking with them about the meaning of things going on around us. Being grateful that I can walk and talk and think freely. Being grateful to be with my monsters. Talking to God. Sharing my faith with others.

Tonight we caught the tail end of the animated Grinch. I love that story. It really, at first glance, has little to do with Christmas (my version) but when the Who’s come out singing after they have lost it all I got weepy. Because that is how I feel this year. I am just grateful for so much.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is one of my favorite books. When I was a kid we did a production of it at our church. I was the narrator so I got to tell the story of how this large family of ruffians comes in and takes over the pageant one year. At first I really wanted to be Imogene Herdman, the ringleader. I just identified with her rough and tumble nature and I loved the huge change that she goes through. But I really liked the narrator too because she is overcome with such a change by the end. I feel like that girl this year. A little baby born 2000 years ago, in a dirty barn with animals and shepherds looking on brought grace and love to us all. And after years and years of hearing about it and celebrating it I finally figured out what it means!

So what difference does it make how we celebrate Christmas as long as we do it with a heart filled with love by that beautiful baby in the manger. And as the shepherds are informed by Gladys Herdman:

“Hey! Unto YOU a child is born!”