Christmas, that’s Not what it Means to MeFamily Journey . Holidays . Katie
Every year someone is bound to ask me about Christmas. It has been many years since our family walked away from the Christmas celebrations. I honestly don’t miss it. But this past year many of my friends who also have chosen not to observe Christmas told me they do miss aspects of this annual celebration. As I listened to why they missed it or what they missed about it, I realized why I don’t have those feelings.
Many missed aspects of Christmas that I have not lost. To be honest, I think I need to start at the beginning.
When Jeremy and I got married in December of 1993 the day after Christmas in our small country church fully decorated in Christmas colors and lights, we began a journey that we had no idea would be so full of learning, growing, joys, and sorrows. We are now 28 years into this marriage, with 15 children +plus two son in laws, and three grandchildren. Life is full, and blessed. But, what I didn’t know that day was how much I didn’t know.
As that first year of marriage started to come to a close, Jeremy, who did not grow up in a pastor’s home, had questions for me. Questions about why do we do the traditions we do, like Christmas and Easter. In those early years of marriage I would explain to him that we were celebrating Christ, His birth, His death and resurrection. I would make Christmas all about the things my dad had taught me it was about. It was all about Jesus. But Jeremy had created a place of questioning in both of us that would continue to nag at us each year.
Is all this Christmas stuff really about Christ?
There were people that came into our lives that did not do Christmas and would tell us that it wasn’t really Jesus’ birthday. But, it would take several years, before we truly understood. It was after our children began to read and research the origins of Christmas that we truly began to be convicted of this very worldly and commercial holiday called Christmas. But instead of giving up Christmas all together, I said, “well that is not what Christmas means to me.” I decided I would put the “Christ” back in Christmas. There was a small problem with my plan Christ did not belong in Christmas. The origins of Christmas had nothing to do with his birth, and instead of finding proof in the Bible of His birthday on December 25th, I found no evidence at all for it.
But, I reasoned with myself that Christmas is a time of year that I can share the Gospel with others. I could direct the Christmas Cantata at church and invite people to attend it. I can give gifts in the name of Christmas and share God’s love. That is what Christmas means to me, God’s Love.
Sadly, over the years, I found that my arguments for keeping Christmas in my life were purely selfish and had nothing to do with loving God. Christmas was all about family, feasting, fun, fellowship, parties, decorating, pageants, singing, and so much more. It was about lights and goodwill. I told myself, and my children, that it was about celebrating baby Jesus. I said it was a celebration of God coming to earth. We read the Bible story, and we gave to the poor, and we did all the wonderful things in the name of Christmas.
But year after year, we realized that no matter what we said Christmas meant to us, it only mattered what it meant to God. Did God want us to celebrate the birth of His Son on December 25th? Did God have anything to say about this annual festival that the whole world was celebrating?
The truth is for many years I knew what God’s Word actually said about Christmas, and I tried to make it ok to do it my way. I ignored the truth that I found in His Word regarding celebrating Him in the same ways that pagans celebrate their gods. I knew the true origins of Christmas had nothing to do with Christ, and yet I continued to say, “that’s not what it means to me.” I had read Jeremiah chapters 8-10. I had read the story of the Israelites building a golden calf and calling it Yehovah and worshiping it in Exodus 32. I knew that God commanded us to have no other gods, and to not worship the sun, moon, or stars, and I knew that Christmas indeed was a celebration originally meant for the sun god. I had memorized the ten commandments as a little girl and I knew that I knew, that every year I was making excuses for how Christmas isn’t breaking them.
But year after year, I became more and more certain that I would be held accountable for what I knew. Deuteronomy 12 would not stop running through my mind each winter. Passages of scripture like Luke 12, really convicted me. I knew that Christmas was Not about Christ, but for many years I still observed it. I would like to tell you that I had this great moment and finally walked away. But, it was through many years of our children asking us to stop celebrating Christmas, that my husband finally told all our extended family that we would no longer be coming to family Christmas. It was a long journey of letting go. Each year we said good bye to a little more of Christmas. We hadn’t put up a Christmas tree in years, and we had stopped “doing Christmas” at our home. But I had continued to direct the children’s Christmas program for many years. It was the last thing I had to let go of.
It has taken many years, but I don’t miss Christmas anymore. Mostly because all the things that I thought I was going to lose by obeying God in this matter I didn’t lose. I still decorate my home each winter, I still have family gatherings in the winter, I still bake cookies and sing songs with my children in the winter. We still have lots of fun and games in the winter. We still have opportunities to give to the poor. The only difference is we don’t do these things in the name of “Christmas.” Because no matter what anyone else thinks Christmas is about, “that’s not what it means to me,” and more importantly that’s not what it means to God.
As always this post is about my personal journey, I am not God and it is not my job to judge anyone’s relationship with God. In this post I do not go into sources or a lot of scripture on how our family came to realize that we could no longer celebrate Christmas. If you want to look into these things it is very easy to research. As I mentioned my children as elementary students found the origins of Christmas in our local library. It wasn’t just one book, but many that they found. As for scripture, if you want answers for how to worship and celebrate our God and Savior, just open your Bible and start reading. Start at the beginning and keep reading.
May the God of the universe, Creator of Heaven and Earth, be praised, and may He reveal Himself to you. Shalom
Written by Katie
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