When I was a child, every year in school, we would celebrate Christmas. We’d work on art projects to decorate the classroom. We’d make Santa Clauses and angels and Christmas trees to hang on the walls or take home to our parents. We’d learn carols and sing in a presentation on a weeknight. We’d listen to Christmas music and have a Christmas party, where we could exchange Christmas presents with our friends.
At home, I’d study what should make my list, so I could tell Santa in the hope that he might bring it. There was the Sears catalog, Christmas edition. And the Service Merchandise one. And JC Penney. With big letters on the front: C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S.
Every television show had a Christmas episode. Celebrities hosted Christmas specials. And the three networks aired all the classics — Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s a Wonderful Life.
Every store was decorated red and green, with banners proudly trumpeting the joy of Christmas. In-store music did the same. A Salvation Army Santa-suited helper rang a bell as you walked inside and wished you a Merry Christmas as you left.
Commercials on TV asked: What do you want for Christmas? Toys, electronics, jewelry…even cars were advertised as the perfect Christmas gift for him or her.
On the street, and at businesses, people would tell you — “Merry Christmas.”
Movies championed the magic and meaning of Christmas, often through plots which pitted goodness against the ultimate villain: the person who wanted to do away with Christmas.
And that was the world I knew.
But later, a different world began to form. People — and, therefore, stores and catalogs and commercials and networks and schools — stopped the fanfare. They stopped the magic. Of Christmas. Because they stopped Christmas. The word. No one, it seemed, believed in “Christmas” anymore.
And I couldn’t believe it — how could the world change so much that it became the villain? It was the Grinch, who stole.
Christmas happens…Christmas is Christmas…because we all agree that it’s Christmas.
But I looked around, and there was red and green. And sales. And ads. And catalogs. And commercialism. But no Christmas.
Only talk of a holiday.
And who celebrates Holiday?
Holiday has no meaning. And so, Holiday has no value.
So what of Christmas?
It’s a question I asked until asking it made no difference. And tonight, December 24th, 2018, a change in the world has made no difference. Not for me. And possibly, for you. And most certainly, many others.
Where is Christmas?
It’s there, in the morning. When a little boy or girl awakes to the magic. As did I. And maybe you. And countless others. He will rise with excitement, and run downstairs to discover what a miracle has given him. She will race into the living room to find the good charity of ol’ St. Nick. And in her eyes, and his…there is Christmas. And me. And you. We will see ourselves and find ourselves in that place. A place where there was Christmas, for us. And is, for them. And no store, no network, no people can take that away.
And as he plays into the evening, and as does she — reeling from the past night’s chimney- and reindeer- and elf-filled events — they may look out into the sky, recalling where their gifts came from. And there, just beside the faint outline of a sleigh, will glisten a star. Like one two thousand years ago. And we’ll remember where the Gift came from. The One greater than businesses or networks or schools or any people, that can never be taken away. One that is true, no matter who disagrees. And that magic, still deep in our aging eyes, emanates from our hearts. The hearts of children. God’s.
And that is the magic of Christmas. And that is where it is. And this is Christmas.