Yesterday (Christmas eve) I drove down to Los Angeles to pick up a friend so he could celebrate Christmas with us and some mutual friends. As I was driving I called my dad to ask him his thoughts on what traffic in L.A. would be like on Christmas eve. My dad spent some 20+ years driving to and from Los Angeles, commuting to work so I figured he would be a good candidate to know something about what my travel would be like. But it was his answer to my simple question that killed me. He said, “I think you should be fine…” to which I replied, “great!” — but he didn’t stop there. He continued by adding, “The feelings about Christmas are really bad this year…they’ve taken Christ out of Christmas.” How exactly would Christ being taken out of Christmas affect my drive to L.A. I’m still trying to figure out, but the truth is — he was serious.
My dad grew up in a different time. He grew up in a time where saying “Merry Christmas” was the norm and wouldn’t turn heads or bring about an awkward stare. But this hasn’t been the case for my generation. I’ve grown up in the “Happy Holidays” transition time. That is-the era in which we have tried to make the switch from saying “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” in hopes of not offending anyone. In fact, I was out with my wife this past week and I overheard a conversation that made me laugh. A lady was telling her family who was with her a story about a child at a restaurant that evening. Apparently the waiter came to the table to give them back their card and check and said “Happy Holidays” to which this child replied “We celebrate Christmas!” That really sums up where we’re at today: in a constant, silly battle as to what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, and all in hopes of not offending anyone by adding the word “Christ” to our greetings.
As I sit here this Christmas morning my heart is drawn to think about these things because this is the morning when Christians celebrate the birth of a Savior. Yes, Christians will most likely also participate in the cultural thing that is Christmas with the lighted tree, sharing gifts, and eating a meal together and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I also want to remind myself (and that’s probably why I’m writing this) that today is the day I celebrate the birth of God coming to this world as a baby. Humbling himself even to become a human and ultimately humbling himself to take away the penalty of my sin on the cross. This truth alone should be enough for me to be joyous today, even despite a culture that wants to remove Christ from everything.