Today’s celebration of Christmas is like that story that can happen to anybody’s family. It’s a story of anybody’s boy. His father who is most of the time drunk than sober, comes home driving everyone nuts and on their toes. His mother who has more time for her gambling than for her family, was thought to be better off with her friends as her presence cause more destruction than good in the house. Everybody seems to quarrel at anything. There was no peace the whole year through. They were never a family and it was never a home.
Then one day, during the boy’s birthday everything suddenly became perfect. As if by some miracle caused by some extraterrestrial activity, his mother kissed him that day. His father, now sober, brought him presents, and his brothers and sisters treated him with special affection. The boy seemed inept at this strange show of affection. He balked. He loathed it, ashamed of it. He felt it to be ridiculous and repulsive but something deep inside made him want it. It was his first and he felt awkwardly strange towards this sudden change of heart and atmosphere. And yet at the same time he thought, “Why can’t this be forever?”
Our celebration of Christmas is quite similar, if not totally. Everybody becomes all of a sudden very courteous and generous, which must have made even the child in the manger equally amused. Suddenly it becomes so cool to be home when a fortnight ago I would have preferred going to my barkada’s party. Suddenly one notices the helpers in the kitchen, becoming aware for the first time, and for a time!, that she has five children whose husband happened to be the family’s former driver. Neighbors become very cooperative and overly patient. Everybody seems to know . . . and remember everybody else. Even the policeman on the street suddenly notices you, smiles and even salutes you, leading one to look at the rear view mirror wondering, “Am I carrying a general at the back of my car?” No you’re not having a general in your car, it’s Christmas!
But why can’t it last forever?
I love this awkward time of the year. It’s unnatural but I feel at home with this environment.
In the past issues, I wrote, that during Advent, our yearly preparation for Christmas, we are reminded not just of the two “comings” of Jesus. It’s not just preparing for the commemoration of His birth 2000 years ago. It’s not just looking forward for his second coming in the future. More importantly, it is becoming more and more aware of His coming everyday of our lives. If we forget this then our commemoration of Christmas becomes empty, or so to say awkward, and our looking forward for his return, futile. There is only one thing that can make this season authentic and lasting. It is conversion - the new life in God brought about by a change of heart. And this change of heart is possible if we are constantly aware of His coming everyday of our lives.
I love this Christmas season. But why can’t it be forever? Couldn’t I just say “Merry Christmas the whole year through” instead of “seasons greetings.” Couldn’t I just wear those Christmas “lights” in my heart instead of hanging them on trees and increase my electricity bill?
Lord grant us the newness of life which you brought on that first Christmas eve so that our Christmas will not just be a season or an eve . . . but forever.
Merry Christmas . . . forever!