Day 7: What IS the Real Meaning of Christmas?

Upon searching out the famous Christmas Stocking and all I found was some traditions for Holland in which they put their shoes out for Santa to fill, some Germans traditions and a few others which all pointed to Santa Claus and not our beloved Jesus.  I then ran across a small article about the Christmas Stockings and I found this info:

STOCKING: The tradition of placing gifts into Christmas stockings come from another tradition regarding Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. In this tradition, the three women who needed dowries in order to be kept from a life of prostitution had hung their stockings by the fireplace to dry. When the saint came by to help them, the money that he threw into their house fortuitously landed in the stockings. The tradition of naughty children receiving a lump of coal in their stockings comes from Italy. Because stockings cover our feet, they symbolize our life’s journey. If our journey takes us closer to God, He rewards us with the joys and happiness of eternal life. But if we constantly turn from Him, we will do so in eternity as well. In popular imagination, satan stokes the fires of hell with coal. Hence, coal in the stocking of naughty children is a somber reminder of damnation while the gifts good children receive foreshadow their eternal reward.

I suppose this story fits in better than any other one, however, still wonder why the Christmas stockings are so popular?  In our household we always saved the stockings for last and the children opened them while we prepared for a day of traveling to relatives houses.  We wrapped several little gifts and stuffed them into their stockings,  even the cats and dogs had their own stockings.  It just amazes me how much focus we have placed on such items which do not even pertain to Jesus.

It is time for us who call ourselves followers of Jesus to seriously slow down and take a closer look at our own reasons for celebrating Christmas.  Are we doing it for the children?  Are we spending needless amounts of money on temporary happiness?  Do we try to impress family and friends with our gifts?  Are their persons on our lists that we feel we HAVE to by for out of obligation? How many times did we receive a gift and grumble that we already had three of those or it wasn’t the right color or size?  How much time did we spend on Christmas shopping? How much of that time could have been better used for the advance of the Kingdom or quality time with family and friends?

If God sent His Son to save the world and give us hope, why are we celebrating this birth with stress and over compensation?  Does any of this make sense to anyone else?  I am not at all saying we should not be celebrating this awesome birth, I just think we have it all wrong.  God loves us and in sending us His son, His intentions were to bring lasting happiness, peace, joy, release from sin and happiness like we have never known.  Instead we have made it into this chaotic celebration.  I am sure when He sent Jesus into the world, He did not intend for His people to get carried away with things not of Himself.  As I mentioned in the Black Friday blog, I cannot even imagine how God feels about all the craziness of that day.  People have lost their lives from mere shopping, how does that even fit into Christmas?

I feel we need to get REAL about Christmas and begin to see it for what it really is, a day of hope and joy!  A day to be spent with friends and family.  A day to take a quiet moment and meditate on what God did by sending us His son.  What if you woke up on Christmas morning and everything you had spent hours preparing, the gifts, the stockings and the Christmas tree itself was stolen and all that remained in the rubble was a tiny little ceramic manger with baby Jesus in it?  What would your reactions be?  Anger?  Violation? Despair? Or would you pick up the manger and get on your knees to thank God your family and home is still there?  I know, something to think about but I feel this is the purpose of these blogs, to make us think about what God did the day He sent Jesus to save the world.

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