Christmas morning always had special memories attached to our lives growing up. Whether we get lost in the Christmas Story dream of the ultimate toy, there is an expectation that comes with this holiday like no other. Last night we were talking about families all over the world, India, Turkey, Romania and every other corner of the globe where "even if they don't celebrate Christmas", they get the day off.
A DAY OFF
Our world is so busy and so filled with the hurry up mentality of life, to actually stop and have businesses recognize that the time is Christmas and businessess should close, not just because of some "Scrooge Principal" but because this is the right thing to do, to rest, to cease activity and to reflect on a new kind of majesty.
My father was a banker and lived a "George Bailey" kind of life. He worked for the Savings and Loan and helped people build houses, grow small business and financed deals on a handshake. This was a totally different kind of day back in the sixties and seventies, but the lessons still apply. He saw the good in people and endeared trust and did not have problems collecting, because people had a "base" of beliefs which led them to character.
A DAY TO GIVE
Christmas has also taught us character because the principals of giving, supporting and providing help to those in need, whether it is food or clothing is so important. Several years ago, I had the blesssing to meet a family who run a great feeding ministry and what a blessing they are to so many, not just at "Christmas time" but throughout the year as they pledge to feed and help others.
A DAY TO GATHER
The gatherings that take place on this day all over the world with friends, family and comrades bring a sense of purpose and joy too. Often these gatherings include the "Christmas movies" so well celebrated by all. The movies have always been a tradition of the holidays going back to ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE or WHITE CHRISTMAMS or the amazing miracles found in Charles Dickens, SCROOGE. Entertainment means to distract or divert one's attention in the Greek, so the distraction is always wonderful.
While there are many "things and happenings" about this holiday, there is one belief our society has often become rather bankrupt in understanding and this is th reason for the season. While we all need to slow down, we all need more character, it's fun to give gifts and receive and who doesn'tlke a family reuninon anyway? There is something more than Tiny Tim saying, "God bless us everyone".
THE DAY TO REMEMBER
Jesus was born on a day, just like any other day. We do not know the exact day and we are not positive it was December, but to me...this was never the point. Christmas has always been the greatest symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, Christmas does not symbolize the birth of any other great teacher and or mystical belief in a God because he was the "only self proclaimed God-man".
Personally, the fulfillment of personally knowing a day is "chosen" by others to celebrate Christ is a reflection of the true joy Christ in Christ-mas makes this season more than magical for me. I am so very thankful all over the world in countries far and wide, there is a Christmas. Do you realize what a blessing this is? Are you truly taking advantage of the moments this represents?
A DAY OF VACATION
The concept of a Christmas vacation is something I never experienced, until this year. I will be sixty years old and actually for the first time in my life, have a family gathering not in a home, but in a place I would have never expected in the world. Entrenched and surrounded by Native American culture in the Southwest, we recognize this holiday with people who, just like us, stop, give and assemble in a midnight mass to celebrate Christmas.
A DAY TO WORSHIP
I was personally too tired to attend the midninght mass but walked into the six pm mass and saw the wonder of church and the celebration of his birth. Wow, this was an amazing thing to behold. Do you know what I saw in the streets? People singing Christmas Carols, musicians, carolers, fires burning and hot cider, nativity scenes and this unmistakeable joy being shared as the words, "Merry Christmas" were on the lips of all.
People were dressed up and the almost freezing weather did not deter the streetwide celebration, the houses being liit up with candles, lights, beautiful decorations and a warmth which overcame the cold. This was a Christmas just like home, but with many people I will never know. Their smiles reminded me of why I love Christmas, because when I found Christ in my heart, I began to smile and live.
A DAY TO WORRY
What would my life be like without Christmas? Well, I would be worried about my past or not being perfect, looking over my shoulder and feeling like the bankruptcy of life was overwhelming. Instead, I see a new today and a better tomorrow because I have hope, I have dreams and I have Jesus in my life. Do you? I pray if you have not explored the tradition of Christmas to find the real "Christ", you will. There is nothing like Him.
A DAY WITH A PROMISE
One day, I will be with my mother again. She is with the Lord now. My Grandparents are with God too and so many people I love who have gone befor us. There is a promise we all have, who know this Christ. He said on the cross to one, "Today, you will be with me in paradise". I believe this was the most perfect statement of the promise of heaven I had ever heard and it's just one more reason why Jesus Christ is the answer to life's greatest questions.
A DAY TO BE ALONE
Some people are alone at Christmas and they feel isolated. Family members have gone and they have trouble making friends. Tragedies happen during a holiday when there is "no hope" and it can be abysmal if you are not careful. Depression can set in and the "expectation can be unmet" bringing peril and problems. Be sure to not isolate yourself this holiday, because all of us are meant to live in true community.
A DAY OF FREEDOM
My prayer is that you will be Merry this holiday season. This can be a holiday for true freedom in your life. This can make the difference forever. Every moment you have, know this. Whenever you may wonder if there is a power in Christmas, the answer is no. The power is in Jesus Christ of Nazareth and there are true miracles, not manufactured movie ones. There is a real Savior and we are all in desperate need of Him and when you find His love, it is my belief your life will change forever and you will never be alone again.
May the Christ of "Christmas" touch you because in this hour, "He lives".
Kevin McAfee is a filmmaker who writes for the purpose of inspiring others to make a difference in the world through faith in God and using the visual language of film. His blog shares the hopes of impacting culture, because his heart is in media missions and the church.