By Rev. Dr. Ed and Mark Hird
If the wise men at Christmas had been wise women, they might have brought Jesus practical Christmas gifts like baby toys, food or clothes (not myrrh, frankincense and gold). These wise men had no idea how their initial gift-giving at Christmas would eventually fuel the world economy, helping many businesses go from red into the black in December. Why is it that gift-giving at Christmas has become so entrenched in most people’s lives? Why is it that many of us struggle to unwrap the gift of Christmas? Why is it that Christmas, the most joyful time of year, is also the most depressing time of year for many?
As a child, I loved looking forward to opening Christmas presents waiting under the Christmas tree. Our public school still had actual Christmas pageants in which I took my part as a Christmas shepherd. As a teenager, opening Christmas presents was still fun, but it started to lose its Christmas wonder. I still unwrapped the Christmas presents each December, but I never stopped to unwrap Christmas itself. I never stopped to ask why we were making such a fuss about the Christmas season. I will never forget when my mother had me go to church on Christmas day. It felt like a radical intrusion into an important holiday time. Why would someone go to church at Christmas? Even though I had been raised in church, I had no idea that God came to earth at Christmas, that God became a little baby in manger. I never rejected the meaning of Jesus’ birth at Christmas. I just never thought about it. It was so familiar to me that I was blind to Christmas.
Home blindness, the tendency to become oblivious to what is in front of us, is a phenomena recognized by social scientists. People often say with regret that they never really appreciated what they had until they lost it. Each Christmas, there are a myriad of Christmas movies that express the theme of loss at Christmas, and rediscovering the joy of Christmas. The Christmas blockbuster ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ [originally called the Greatest Gift] went unnoticed at its 1946 release, so much so that the copyright license in the late 1970s was not even renewed. This meant that television studios could show the movie for free at Christmas. After a few years of this, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ became a cult classic. Who can forget the conflict around the Christmas tree as Jimmy Stewart/George Bailey was close to committing suicide? Who can forget the final scene around the Christmas tree when all his friends come together and unite in support? Who can forget the joyful Christmas Carols sung by Jimmy Stewart, friends and family as they thanked the baby Jesus for the true meaning of Christmas? This Christmas, let not forget to unwrap the true gift of Christmas, the Christ Child come to earth to save us.
The Rev. Dr. Ed and Mark Hird
-an article previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News
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