It's the most wonderful time of the year... shall we see how many Christmas songs and carols I can fit into this post? You might want to kill me by the end so maybe not.
Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, as cliched as that is. It's the time of year that brings out the best in people. Stories like How The Grinch Stole Christmas or A Christmas Carol work because being a miserable old sod is bad enough but being a miserable old sod at Christmas is the absolute worst. If you can't be happy at Christmas then when can you be happy, right?
This year Mall of America welcomed their first black Santa in 24-year and the racist backlash was so intense they had to take down all internet advertising. Meanwhile is the Netherlands – the country that is so forward thinking they invented Dementia Village – white people are fighting for the right to do blackface for Christmas under the guise of "tradition".
Meanwhile is Syria...
And this just happened in Germany...
The fact is that stories like The Grinch and A Christmas Carol resonate with us because, as awful as the Grinch and Scrooge are, there is truth to their sentiments. Oftentimes the world is a hard place to reconcile yourself with, especially at Christmas. You want to be full of Christmas cheer, roasting your chestnuts, listening the silver bells, drinking you eggnog latte (those things are vile) but then a truck rams into a crowd of people and you left thinking, what's the use? Bah Humbug,
We learnt from the Grinch that "Christmas... doesn't come from a store. Christmas.. perhaps... means a little bit more" and we learnt from Jacob Marley that in death we shall "wear the chains [we] forged in life" but what do we do with that information? What is the more? What does Christmas mean?
Some of my favourite songs are Christmas carols. They are deceptively simple. You sing a catchy little tune you've known since you found a voice the powerful lyrics just wash over you leaving you with a warm glow and now recollection of its source. Take for example Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. The lyrics, "Hark, the herald angels sing, "Glory to the new born King! Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.""
I know Christmas doesn't just belong to the Christians anymore. It's a universal holiday. In America they love to say "Happy Holidays" and in England we stick an X over the Christ. I know Jesus wasn't born December 25th. I know the early Christians "borrowed" the date of the winter solstice celebration. But what I also know, very well, is that the root of Christmas is the birth of the Christ child. Yes the date is stolen but the point of the holiday is to celebrate God coming to earth in the form of a baby.
Here's the story of Christianity in 100 words or less: God makes man, man turns back on God, a rift is created between man and God, God tells man he basically has to be perfect to cross the rift, man fails (many times) as perfection, God becomes man, God as man is perfect, God as man dies anyway to make up for all of man's imperfections, God as man is resurrected, man and God are reconciled.
My point? The point of Christmas. The reason Jesus was born was to reconcile God and man. the point of Christmas therefore is reconciliation. Reconciliation, forgiveness, grace and mercy. Christmas isn't about tradition, it isn't about Santa - be he black, white or Asian – it isn't about presents, it isn't even about family and friends although they are great bonuses. Christmas is about that rift between God and man being filled. And even if you don't believe in God Christmas is still about forgiveness.
I have a tendency to veer towards the petty side of things. As a child reading The Grinch and Christmas Carol I was happy for the Grinch and Scrooge's change of heart but that didn't make up for the bad things they'd done before. They'd still done horrible things, especially Scrooge. What about all the hurt they'd caused and all the horrible things they'd done. Did the people they'd hurt just let it go? Yes. Maybe the story isn't just about how even the coldest heart can be melted. Maybe the story is also about how the people of Whoville and the citizens of London had the ability to forgive.
This christmas I'm giving the gift of forgiveness because forgiveness presses the reset button and allows us all to start again.
Merry Christmas everybody 🎅🏾🎅🏾🎅🏾