Christmas Day—the first day of Christmas—the Feast of the Nativity–the Festival of the Incarnation of our Lord: by any name, this is a special and holy day. For weeks people have been preparing to celebrate this day. For centuries, traditions and stories have been shaped around this day. Charles Dickens, Clement Clarke Moore, O. Henry, and Dr. Seuss have populated the holiday of Christmas with figures almost as familiar to most of us as the members of our own families.
Christmas can bring unhappiness at times. Some people remember family members and friends who are no longer alive to celebrate the holiday with the rest of us. Others remember family members and friends who are alive but are many miles away, separated by distance and by necessity. Still others remember family members and friends who are estranged by emotional distance, by disputes and disagreements, by grudges and feuds, by disappointments and dismay. Yet others yearn for people they have not yet met, sensing an emptiness and seeking the right person to fill that emptiness.
All these impediments to happiness can make Christmas less merry. Yet the true meaning of Christmas remains: good news of great joy for all people. A Savior has been born; he is Christ the Lord! This is a sign for his people: a swaddled baby lying in a manger. He has defeated sins and all evil, yes, even death itself. He provides for his people on the schedule he knows is best. He rules the universe and is coming soon to fix all that is broken and to make the world perfect forever.
Whatever ways you are celebrating this holiday, and whatever concerns make this day less merry for you, may the joy of Christmas shine in your heart and in your life. May it shine through you also to enlighten the lives of those near you. J.