Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmastime is Here

3:29 PM
Christmastime is here! You can hear it on the radio, in the stores, and even in the air. In my 28 years of celebrating Christmas, I’ve had many different emotions surrounding this holiday. As a child, I remember being excited and feeling the “magic of Christmas”. I’d go to bed and the next morning, our living room would be brimming with gifts. I remember knowing about Santa Claus, but also knowing the true meaning of Christmas was the birth of Jesus. We celebrated both in my house. It was a joyful time. My little brother died when I was 10, holidays became a little less joyful for awhile. Our first Christmas after his death, we went to Disney World as a way to completely change the holiday for us. [Disney on Christmas, by the way, was waaaay too crowded!] It worked. Eventually though, Christmas regained its joy. Throughout my teen years, I associated the holiday with family coming in town I didn’t always want to see, and getting gifts I didn’t really want. [Typically angsty teen, I suppose!] In the last couple years, I’ve had even more mixed emotions. As I began traveling as a missionary 5 years ago, and visiting the poorest of the poor, I became disgusted with the amount of wealth and consumerism of Americans during Christmas. For 2 years in a row, I refused to buy gifts, but made them instead. One year, I bought only handmade items. And one year, I gave everyone cards that said instead of giving them a gift, I donated the money I would have used to building wells in Africa. [It went over surprisingly well!] And now here I am again, at Christmastime.

I was watching some of my favorite Christmas movie classics [Love Actually, Elf, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas] and some of my favorite TV shows Christmas episodes [The Office, Glee, Community, Seinfeld, Friends] and I began to notice something. Amidst the shopping and the humor, the wacky traditions and the cheesy songs, I saw how the world sees Christmas. It’s a time to tell the people in your life that you love them. It’s a time to forgive each other and let go of past grudges. It’s a time to come together and help make your friend’s dreams come true. It’s a chance to believe in something bigger than yourselves. It’s seeing the positive in the world around you. It’s a time to give…not just gifts, but to your community too. It’s the one time of year that the world ceases to act like the world, but longs to live in the kingdom of God.

So for me this year isn’t about avoiding stores and boycotting malls, and its not about ignoring family traditions or trying to preach simplicity. It’s about embracing the world’s desire to live in the kingdom, even if just for a season. And to hopefully show them how they can live as though its Christmas everyday…with the love and knowledge of a Savior who was born this very time of year.

This video does a great job of explaining the world’s system vs. the kingdom of heaven’s system through the lens of Christmas. It’s a few minutes long, but worth the watch.

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!