"We do Christmas slowly. That is, instead of tearing into presents for a ten minutes rush of adrenaline, we open them one by one and take all morning. We wrap everything, even stocking gifts. If something can be divided into two packages, we do it. Even gum is wrapped.
"It happens like this. The question is asked, 'Who gets to give the next gift?' Then that perfect gift is found, handed over, and opened as dramatically as possible. Exclamation follows and a huge hug and 'Thaaaaaanks; that's just what I wanted!' In fact, we might play with the gift, or try it on, right there. We've seen a half an hour pass before another gift is opened.
"You get it, we want it to take some time, to enjoy it, to savor it, not conquer it.
"We talk about Christ's birth around the advent carousel the night before, sometimes following a candlelight service, and always accompanied by (imitation) eggnog (called "egg knocker" when the kids were young). That's very special to us.
"Now this brings up an important point. Should we really do all of this?..."
Tonight Jim will reflect on the above question in light of the following two interesting points:
1.) The Puritans did not celebrate Christmas,and found in the holidays a call to Rome and a high, formal Anglicanism that they felt was the deceiver of so many through the ages. They wanted nothing to do with religious traditions and ceremonies passed down by men. I may have stood right with them in their day, especially in England. After all, Christmas is really "Christ Mass." I understand their concern and applaud them for their courage.
2.) Today Christmas is almost entirely secularized. It is a merchant's most profitable period as eager shoppers raid their shelves. Can we be any more comfortable with a secular Christmas than the religiously-loaded Christmas the Puritans detested?
Then, in light of these two considerations, Jim will address some reasons why he still believes it is okay (and very beneficial) to celebrate Christmas, complete with gift-giving and "egg knocker", including:
1.) The day itself is not really the day Christ was born. (This at first may sound like a reason to avoid Christmas, but Jim has reasons why this fact gives us more liberty to participate in celebrating this day).
2.) Diversity over the years has taken away much of the "Romish" flavor to the holiday.
3.) God can be honored in gift-giving and generosity as well as in singing carols and telling the story.
4.) There may be better things to be different about. In other words, we might show our radical difference better in the way we treat other shoppers, the kindness we show to retail clerks, the warmth of our hearts, the largeness of our generosity, the thankfulness we express and really feel.
5.) There are admittedly some great opportunities to make Christ known during Christmas. With all that is bad about it, we can still make our point.
As Jim puts it: "As for us, a world of superficiality cannot stop us from worshipping Christ for His coming to earth if we really want to do it. Gloria in Excelsis!"