The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song. The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent. Here at Crave Something More, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.” Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.
Day 1: My Top 5 Favorite Things About Christmas
This past week, I thought of the five things I love most about Christmas. Here they are, in no particular order: food (particularly Mama T’s fudge and chex mix), physical warmth on a cold day (to include fires, warm slippers, thick plaid shirts, and the like), aesthetic warmth (soft lights in a cozy room, the greens and reds and golds and silvers about the house), candle light services (although I’m partial to the now-rare old-school, long-burning, multi-song services), and being with family. (Oh, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and, my favorite of all, The Night They Saved Christmas).
You’ll notice that Jesus isn’t on that list. I love Jesus, and I want to celebrate His birth, but for whatever reason, when I think of Christmas, I don’t first think about Jesus. Which, of course, is puzzling, since this day is set aside to celebrate His birth.
In some senses, that’s not a huge problem. Feeling affections towards family traditions or food or worship services is all fine and well. And the passage of time helps here as well—memory tends to chip away the bad and polish the good, so that when I make up a list of Top 5 Christmas Memories, they are all idealized versions of what actually happened. But in another sense, this is a huge problem. “All things exist,” Paul tells us, “for Him.” He is the center of the universe and the peak of history, so surely His birthday should be about Him too.
You’ll also notice that gifts aren’t on that list either. I’ve never been a big gift kind of guy; I always feel a little awkward as the center of attention, which every gift-opener always is, I’m not very good at coming up with things I want. Of course, this leads to all sorts of problems, because I tend to treat others as if they were just like me, because I think being just like me is great and all, so I struggle with giving gifts as well. And I can rationalize that all that I want, saying Christmas isn’t about the presents, and we should all be content with what we have, but really, I’m just masking the part of my heart that doesn’t think of others as more important than myself.
It’s a little strange that we celebrate Jesus’ birthday by giving each other gifts. I guess that’s in part because we can’t physically hand Jesus a gift, and He owns everything in the universe anyway and doesn’t need anything from us. But there’s clearly a connection between this idea of giving and Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son,” John writes, and perhaps we give to each other as a reminder of the Gift God gave to the world two thousand years ago.
I know that this year, I want Jesus to be number 1 on my list. Or to say it more accurately, I want Jesus to pervade the other 5 things on my list, to be the means for enjoying them, and the cause for joy in them, and the ultimate end of them.
Question: What are your Top 5 Favorite Things About Christmas?