Shabbat and Christmas

Mark 2:27
Jesus said to them, ” The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

I hear so many at this time of year bemoaning the shopping, the decorating and the expectations that seem to be part-and-parcel of the Christmas season.  Depression and suicide are at a high during this time of year and, in part, I understand.  There is a long chain of holiday celebration going back up my family tree farther than I can trace.  It would be a failing of my generation if I didn’t “get with it.”  Yet, I feel a numbness towards tradition that never fails to puzzle me.  So much that has been handed down has been meaningful, but the rote decoration of a tree and the watching of “It’s a Wonderful Life” monotonously fail to make their holiday magic in this heart.

Perhaps it’s the Santa Claus thingie.  We never told our kids about Santa because we didn’t want to “lie” to them.  That’s just where we were at the time the question came up.  You may judge if you feel inclined.  I don’t mind, really.  I judge it from time to time myself.  Baby Jesus is a character in a Sunday School story that I only remember with effort and the benefit of the doubt.  The risen Lord Jesus is all to me now and I always fail at squaring Him with this time of year in any special way.  It is my loss, I’m sure, since so many seem to receive a renewal of vision through this.

Perhaps my quarrel is not with holidays or presents or decorations, but with the past as a whole.  I have a practiced loss of memory that restarts me again each year with the past as a dream, the present as a problem to be solved, and the future as a speculation, not unlike the plot of a novel.

If I could unwrap a perfect gift this year, I know it would be that I could return to a piece of the innocence of that boy who fell asleep unwillingly on December 24 and woke to the wonders of a Santa who was believed in and a world that ended at our front door.  Man was not made for Christmas, but Christmas for man.

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