Where are your Christmas? Why can't I find you...

I drove home yesterday saddened by the darkened houses that I passed by. I remembered when I was little how my family would spend hours "Christmas light looking", gazing at the beautifully lit up homes. I remembered immaculate Christmas church celebrations, carolers, and Christmas programs on TV...but all of that seems to diminish as the years go by. Maybe it's the recession, maybe it's the surge of layoffs, the bad economy, or a contagious case of the "hum bugs", but one thing is for sure. Christmas just isn't what it used to be.

I bet your asking yourself, as I did, why it's such a big deal to do all the "holiday things." It seems monotonous sometimes. Why do we spend upwards of two hours on a roof or dangling from a ladder to put up lights, or spend hours laboring in the kitchen baking for neighbors and friends, or spend hours addressing and writing little notes inside of personalized Christmas cards? Hundreds of dollars, man hours, and aching backs later we wonder what the point was anyway. Why not forgo the lights this year, or just order the baked goods instead of making your famous lemon bars, or order photo cards with no personalized notes on them. Why bring cookies to your neighbor anyway...you never see them and you haven't even met the new ones that moved in last month.

We forget so easily what the season is about don't we? We forget that it's not about us. It's about a baby boy, a tiny infant who is called "Immanuel," God with us. We forget His message, the call to be self less, to serve others. It's not about the lights, the cookies we bake for others, or the gifts we give. It's the thought and motivation behind those things. We put up lights to tell others about the hope in God and the magic of this holiday, we bake for neighbors to show them they are important to us, we give gifts to bless others, and we send cards to those we haven't seen to let them know that they are loved and thought about. That's what makes the Christmas season so joyous. It's the one holiday, the one season that life becomes about love and showing that love to others.

Without that love, Christmas is just another holiday, just another day off work, just another hassle. This year I was bound and determined to spread the cheer. I put up the lights, and baked myself into a tizzy of oatmeal chocolate cookies and cranberry bread, delivering them to neighbors and coworkers. And you know what, it wasn't very long before our neighbors across the street put up their lights and brought over goodies they had baked too. See, I think Christmas cheer is a contagious anomaly. It just takes one person to pass it on. It just takes one person to remember what the holiday is really about and share it with others. And it just took one baby boy to change the fate of the nations and of our souls.


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