I don’t have a problem with saying “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas”. When you break it down, “holiday” means “holy day”. So yeah, it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other when choosing how to greet others. It makes me smile every time I think how the entire world celebrates without many of its citizens realizing, or at least acknowledging, this holiest of days.I finally started putting Christmas up around the house this past week, which is actually early for me. When we were teaching, my husband and I were so busy helping our students make their gifts and perform their plays, that we didn’t start thinking about our own preparations until the school break started. Many’s a year that I pulled together “Christmas” – start to finish – in three days. Now that we’re retired the habit remains the same. Our tradition is to keep everything up until Epiphany, Three Kings Sunday, so the decorations will have their time to shine.
It’s all good. The bustle of the season has nothing to do with the holy day of Christmas. Whether gifts are wrapped and put under a decorated tree or not, it will still happen. Whether cards are mailed or cookies are baked, the fact that God became flesh and dwelt among us will be celebrated throughout the world on Wednesday. Unlike the frantic holiday movies that tell us it’s the character’s actions that determine whether Christmas comes – or not – (spoiler, it always happens, sometimes by the skin of Santa’s teeth), Christmas isn’t about what we have to do, it’s about what He did. I say unconditional holiday, because of His unconditional love and gift of grace.
As I read through the book of Isaiah, I noticed a repeated theme of darkness and light. Coincidentally, here in the northern hemisphere where I live, the days were growing shorter and the dark nights longer as our earth tilted further away from the sun on its axis. And here we are today, December 21, the official first day of winter.
I leave you on this Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, with this:
Isaiah 9:2: “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.”
Those words were uttered 700 years before the birth of Christ.
John 8:12 “Again therefore Jesus spoke to them (the scribes and Pharisees) saying, “I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
My favorite solstice song: