“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:14
I’m probably going to get hate mail from this, but I made a very serious decision. Here it is: I am not going to listen to Christmas songs this year. I don’t mean I’m going to completely shun it. If a song happens to pop up on the radio unexpectedly, I might listen to it if it’s a good one, especially if it’s Burl Ives. But otherwise, no. Not until one week before Christmas Day. It’s a move I had to make.
Many people, starting at, like, Halloween or maybe even Labor Day, are anxious for the holidays. They’re hanging up stockings and mistletoe as soon as the temperature dips below 70. They’re testing every strand of lights they own even while the “Back to School” sales are going on. There was a time when I did this too. I was just as anxious about Christmas coming as the best of them for a very long time. So what happened? I’ll tell you.
Preserving the Christmas Spirit
Several years ago, a local radio station decided that beginning on Thanksgiving Day they would play non-stop Christmas music until December 25. This was my favorite radio station, so of course, I listened to all the songs the first year. But I ended up lacking in my excitement for Christmas once the big day came. I felt like I had already been celebrating for over a month and there was no climax to anything. Then, to top it off, on December 26 the radio station cut all Christmas music off like it never existed when I was still- and finally- trying to celebrate Christmas week, that one-week period between Christmas and New Year’s. It all just disappeared! It made me wonder, “What’s going on here?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I celebrate Advent and I believe in preparing your heart for Christ’s arrival. For me, that’s different from just singing songs about reindeer and Santa. Advent is more about digging into the Word, reflecting on your faith, and bringing a new sense of honor and worship to the Lord. I take that seriously, as we all should. And somehow the tenth different version of “Feliz Navidad” being played yet again just doesn’t fit in.
I miss feeling that build-up to Christmas Day, that sense of awe and wonder of the season. I miss focusing on time spent with friends and family, baking cookies with the kids, and decorating the house with a special overflowing feeling of joy and anticipation. Instead, I just have my head full of the same song that I’ve now heard 20 times in the last 24 hours. It just sucks the fun and meaning out of what the songs are meant to convey. And it dries up the meaning of Christmas.
“That’s What Christmas is All About…”
To me, Christmas isn’t about overplayed music and the commercialism it can bring. It’s about so much more. Christmas music should provide a way to be quiet with God and draw closer to Him in worship as we prepare for the celebration of His son’s birth. And not just the actual event of His birth, but the reason for it.
Christmas is about remembering that Jesus was born to die. That He came into a sin-filled world to walk among His creation and then cruelly suffer and die on a cross that was meant for each one of us. Then He rose again to conquer sin and death forever. The very fact that Jesus stepped down from heaven just to make a way for us to enter eternally into the holy Father’s presence should give us all pause at Christmas time. His birth was only the beginning of salvation for us. The cross finished it. That’s what makes Christmas so special.
So this year, I’m resolved to preserving the excitement and fun of Christmas as well as its profound meaning in any way I can. My plan is to listen to regular Christian music (which can be equally wonderful during the Christmas season, by the way) and maybe some oldies or even a CD or two leading up to the last week or so before Christmas. And then I’m going to open wide the floodgates of holiday music! My hope is that instead of trying to get some really weird, indie rock version of “The Little Drummer Boy” out of my head all the time, I can fill my mind with thoughts of God and the people I care about just as Paul instructed us to do in Philippians 4:8:
“Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things.”
I want to put more focus on giving and being creative, planning my days to maximize the love I want to share, and digging deeper into the Christmas story in the book of Luke. And hopefully, I’ll feel that sense of bubbling joy and suspense again when we gather around the tree on Christmas morning.
Jesus, Emmanuel, came to us because of His amazing love for us. That’s definitely worthy of our focus however we can do it at any time of the year.
What are you doing to preserve the wonder and excitement of Christmas Day? What are you doing to keep your focus on Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us? Leave your comments here as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of the King of Kings.