Children receive Christmas with joy. There is a building sense of excitement. Most days have only 24 hours, but the days leading up to The Big Day go so slowly for the child they’re at least 58 hours in length. Children can’t wait for Christmas morning to arrive.
Adults receive Christmas with depression. There’s so much to do and so little time. Get the gifts. Cook the food. Hang the lights. Trim the tree. Who’s gift are we forgetting? When can we relax? The day’s whiz by at the speed of Christmas lights, and the holiday comes and goes with the blink of an eye.
Children receive Christmas with wonder. There is enchantment in the air. They have the magic of the Bethlehem star, Christ’s birth, angels and magi. Christmas is when a mysterious God breaks into the world with glorious light. And of course, there’s Santa Claus and his reindeer.
Adults receive Christmas with skepticism. There’s no such thing as magic. The Bethlehem star was probably just supernovae, or a strange conjunction of planets. Angels are cute decorations, but nothing else. And Santa Claus? Well...you know what adults think.
Children receive Christmas with faith. Anything can happen. Dreams come true, and endings are happy. At Christmas the world becomes less scary and cold, and more cozy and warm. Miserly scrooges become generous friends, and people help each other. There’s peace on earth and good will toward others.
Adults receive Christmas with cynicism. All people care about is money and things. We’ve got to push our way through the crowds, to spend our cash on gifts that will probably break, or get returned. Help other people? No time. Instead of peace, we have traffic jams. Instead of good will we have short-tempered shoppers.
I suspect that Christmas is for children. They are the ones who seem best able to enjoy it. Many of us adults have forgotten how.
How many years has it been since you were a child? Maybe it’s been too long.
This Christmas, why not revisit your youth? Let go of your depression, and get excited again. Forget about your skepticism, and rediscover wonder. Instead of exercising cynicism, embrace the world with faith. Savor the days with delight.
Be a child. After all, that’s exactly what God became, 2000 years ago, in a manger in Bethlehem.