During this sacred season, I often find myself wishing I could retreat from the "hustle and bustle" of the holiday, and spend some time just thinking about -- and being thankful for -- the reason we celebrate this time of year.
As humans typically do, we find a myriad of reasons to nitpick about the meaning of the season -- and we demean and defame it everytime we do.
Consider the Scrooges who just cannot abide a manger scene in a public setting. How about the Grinches who've forbidden school children from even speaking the name of Christ, much less singing about Him in school programs. And how about those stores selling "holiday trees?" They seem to have no problem with "happy holidays," and they have a Hanukkah section, even a Kwanzaa section -- but nothing labeled "Christmas."
Then there is the overt, often grotesque over-commercialism of the season, the emphasis on getting more than giving, the insane shopping sprees and tramplings in the wee hours of Black Friday in front of the Wal-Mart's.... As Charlie Brown would say, "Good grief!"
But the secular world isn't alone in its defamation of, arguably, the second most holy day of the Christian year. The "church" is just as guilty.
Some on the more extreme fringe criticize everything from Santa Claus to the date we celebrate Christ' birth (or if we should celebrate at all) to whether or not having a Christmas tree is idolatry to...You get the idea.
Then there are those who go in the opposite direction. Christmas is on a Sunday this year. Some "megachurches" have decided that it's a "family day" so they won't be holding services. Excuse me? I realize crowds will be small. I realize family time is important. But, Jesus came for the church! To create it, build it... So, now we are too busy or selfish to worship -- on the Lord's Day, on the day we celebrate His birth??
When I observe all the ways humans tend to distort and abuse what IS the greatest gift ever given, is it any wonder that I'd rather contemplate the holiday alone, in solitude? I find a quiet time of reflection far more rewarding than the corrupt creation we humans have made this glorious holiday.
Still, on Christmas Day, I will be worshipping the newborn babe that became our sacrificial Lamb. I'll be with the few disciples who count it important enough to come. And if it's just Him and me, that'll be okay. That'll be just fine. The gift He gave to me is worth it....Every bit of it.