The liturgical season of Christmas begin on December 25th each year and continues until the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord in Catholic tradition. It is a wonderful season to begin to celebrate on December 25th and that celebration goes on for the next several days. On the other hand, in the eyes of the world the celebration of Christmas begins before Halloween and ends at the end of the day on Christmas day. It is sad to sometimes see Christmas trees on the street for trash pick-up only a day or two after Christmas since the secular celebration is over almost as soon as Christmas dinner is concluded. Thankfully, as Catholic Christians, the feast has just begun, and it is a joyous time to reflect, pray, and rejoice in the birth of Christ. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and of the incarnation of the God made man. To know Jesus is to love him, and that is what Christmas is about. Period.
What does secular Christmas look like without observation of Christ?
The vast majority of the world celebrates Christmas as a fun time, with presents, trees, great food, fellowship, and general care and outreach toward humankind. Outreach to those in need is a definite reflection of Christmas, and this is good. However, everything else although not terrible by any means, does not glorify God quite as much. Like a beautiful gift box with decorative bows which is opened, and nothing is inside; it is in this way that society views and observes Christmas. Without Christ as “the gift” there is no Christmas to rejoice in. Nice parties, tasty food, and the perfect gift in reality is not what it’s about. If Christ is remembered, prayed to, and included then food, fun, and family time is much better, more appropriate, and meaningful. The other way around just makes no sense when you think about it for more than a few seconds.
Knowing Jesus and celebrating him
So how can one keep the “reason for the season” close at heart when amongst others who don’t understand, don’t care, or don’t get it? Keep Christ in Christmas within your own heart and family. If no one else prays at Christmas dinner, you be the one to do it. Go to Mass. Pray as a family. Remember that gifts are not particularly important, it is always the thought. Don’t’ make a fuss about the imperfections that happen over the holidays. Don’t’ dwell on negative people, negative comments, or on those who are so far away from God that it is distracting to you. Remember that loving and caring for the marginalized is a calling of all of us. When you’re at a holiday gathering, reach out to the quiet person in the room. Walk away from all negativity, and keep joy in your heart always. Teach your children that having faith is awesome and beautiful and foster that faith.
If there is no Jesus in Christmas, then Christmas in reality cannot actually be “celebrated.” It will merely be a nice get-together with food and gifts. Keep Christ in Christmas always. Be courageous. Love others as God loves and remember that without Christ there is no Christmas. Because if there is no Jesus there is no Christmas, but if you know, love, and serve him, there is.