Break out the tinsel and hang up the mistletoe, because it’s officially ten days until Christmas. Can you feel it? Can you?
I swear that even the air becomes sugary this time each year. The smell of peppermint and candy hangs around everybody like sweet, intoxicating smoke, filling their heads with thoughts of reindeer and presents and trees and laughter and pure happiness.
Okay, I take that back.
Admittedly, I’m not one of those people that find themselves infused with “the Spirit of Christmas” around mid-October every year. Not that I hate Christmas, just the consumerism that pollutes the atmosphere of joy it’s supposed to bring. The earlier the decorations come out in shopping malls, the more the magic is lost on me. This year I actually found it really difficult not to start hissing at the forests of massive trees hung with glittering baubles and snowflakes that started appearing in November. (But seriously, snowflakes? This is South Africa. It’s like thirty-five degrees Celsius out here at Christmas time.)
So maybe I’m a bit of a Scrooge. No biggie, right? Not everyone has to love Christmas.
Except that, well, they should. Technically. Even if you’re not religious, there’s something to celebrate. A week off work, gift-giving (if your family does that), or even just the sales that come afterwards.
It’s so easy to become distracted during the holiday season, whether you turn your attention onto gifts or candy canes or Santa Claus or, like me, a disdain for everything Christmas has become. It’s even easy to fall into the trap of watching endless reruns of clichéd Christmas films, or eating too many mince pies, or going overboard with the tinsel. Worrying about the lights, the tree, the food, the weather, wrapping the presents…
The point I’m trying to get to is that Christmas isn’t about any of that stuff in isolation. Hell, Christmas at its core isn’t even solely about giving, regardless of all those messages spread by retailers and Hollywood movies.
Christmas is about hope.
Christmas is about finding happiness again, and starting a new year filled to the brim with it. It’s about spreading hope, receiving it, and drowning in it. It’s about believing that life will get better, no matter how difficult the past year has been, no matter how much grief we’ve all been through, or how much we’ve struggled to rediscover meaning in our separate lives.
Christmas came to be because the world was drenched in darkness and shrouded in hopelessness. But a star rose in the East to ignite a new path towards hope. Even now, while it seems that the war and destruction around us will never cease, that hope still hangs in the sky. It reaches out to us each December, ready to bring light back into our lives.
Christmas is about coming together and believing in a better future for the whole world. That’s why Christmas is for everyone. Whether you celebrate the holiday or not. Whether you’re a Christian or not.
And honestly, this year we all need a double dosage of that hope. Scrap that, this world needs pure hope through an IV. Enough to make it totally delirious, and crazy enough to do something about the mess it’s created.
So in the next ten days, I’m going to work really hard to rediscover my faith in Christmas. With any luck, I’ll find some hope and spread it over to your side, wherever you are.