I have many photo albums from my childhood. My parents were probably ahead of their time in terms of recording family events, both still photos and movies. I can find at least one photo from just about every Christmas in my 18 years before life changed and I went to college. However, I have very few photos from my 18th birthday or any birthday before that.
Frankly, I don’t even have many birthday memories, nor am I interested in creating new ones at my age. But every year, when Christmas rolls around, the decorations go up, listen to the same time honored Christmas songs, watch all the Christmas specials on television, see the presents under the tree, and there I am, reliving the most precious moments of my childhood.
It is a time of nostalgia, longing for a simpler world, surrounded by all the people no longer with us. But it is not a sad time. It is a time of celebration, a celebration that goes so far back in our history that it must be genetic.
We celebrate Christmas as Christians because it is the time when God’s only son was born. It is a time of worship, of joy and commitment. Some feel that should be the only reason to celebrate, that Christmas is too commercialized, but whatever your feelings, it is a time that has meaning in many cultures, even where Christians are a minority.
The fact is that this time of year has been celebrated long before Christ was born. It had different names in different cultures, but it was the time of the winter solstice, signifying longer days ahead and the promise of good fortune, actually the start of a new year. Back then, they celebrated as we do today, families and friends came together, trees were decorated, mistletoe was hung. Yes, many of our customs today actually had their origin in a time beyond our collective memory. Others have been added over the 2000 years since that first Christmas, like gift giving, caroling, and of course, Santa Claus. But does does any of that take away from the celebration of Christmas? Of course not.
The point is this. Christmas may mean different things to different people, but we can all agree that it is the most glorious time of year, a holiday that fills us with joy, anticipation, togetherness and peace. The only regret we should have is that it only happens once a year.
So Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good time.