Last week I posted the following status update on my Facebook page:
I feel like a Grinch. Songs like "Let It Snow" and "Frosty" and "Winter Wonderland" are pissing me off. I don't want fluff – I want meaning.
The responses were varied and fervent. Some agreed, some disagreed, and some were concerned for my mental health.
I gave it another week, alternating between four radio stations (two Christian, two secular) that were playing Christmas/holiday music. I cannot hide my disappointment.
Let me rewind just a bit. I despise Halloween – I couldn’t wait for it to be over. On November 1, I happily turned my focus to Thanksgiving – my favorite holiday. I wanted November to be about family, gratitude, and the beauty of autumn. Instead, I saw decorations and trees and lights and signs and sales touting the Christmas season. “NO, it’s too early!” I protested, to no one in particular.
The radio started playing holiday music. I changed the station. My boys started teasing me, singing Christmas songs at the top of their lungs, and asking why I hate Christmas. “I don’t hate Christmas,” I told them. “I’m just trying to enjoy Thanksgiving!”
On Thanksgiving night, I finally switched gears. We built our gingerbread house, which has become a yearly tradition to signal the start of Christmas festivities. And on the drive home from my in-laws’ house, I finally switched the radio to Christmas music, much to the boys’ delight.
Silver Bells, Deck the Halls, Frosty the Snowman, Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Let It Snow, Rudolph…
Something didn’t feel right. The music that was supposed to lift my spirits and put me in a festive mood did the opposite. What a downer! I kept flipping stations, searching for something, anything, to get me out of my funk.
And then I realized what I was looking for – what I needed – to fit the pieces together: Music that reflected the real meaning of Christmas.
That’s not to say the Christmas season cannot include bells, sleighs, trees and snowmen. But that is not what Christmas is all about – at least not to me.
I am a sinner. And the worst kind, because I know it yet continue to sin. God, in His grace and mercy, is not sending me to the hell I deserve. Instead, He sent His only Son – born as a baby – to live on earth and be an example to all of us. Jesus was a shining light in a dark world, and through His suffering and death on the cross, saves all who believe. It’s free, it’s guaranteed, and it’s ours for the taking.
It’s powerful. It’s meaningful. And I’m hungry for it.
I’m fighting with everything I have to keep Jesus our focus this month. I’m fighting the boys’ natural desire for presents and more presents. I’m fighting for peace in our flurry of activities. I’m fighting for clarity in charity. I’m fighting for a moment to reflect on that babe in the manger.
And I’m looking to music – the nurturer of my soul – to help me. Instead of being filled with lyrical force and melodic power, I’m getting snowflakes and bells. Yes, there’s a place for sleighs and snowmen and cookies this Christmas. Of course they add to the spirit of the holiday. But I want more than just fluff and stuff. I want meaning, value, depth, significance.
Christ wasn’t born so I could eat gingerbread cookies or build a snowman. Those are fun activities and I’m not trying to boycott fun. But if all our time is spent on Christmas shopping, baking sweets, putting up lights, playing in the snow, ringing bells, going to parties, and configuring elves, when do we think about Jesus?
This might help. Here are two stanzas of “Let It Snow,” which I’ve heard about 17 times in the last 24 hours:
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no where to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!!
Oh, it doesn't show signs of stopping
And I've bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
And now, two stanzas of my favorite Christmas carol, “Mary, Did You Know?”
Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
It’s no contest. There’s room for a little bit of everything in Christmas – it’s a magical time for many reasons. But the most important, the most momentous, the most crucial and necessary, is Jesus Christ. I don’t want Him to get buried under the snow, hidden behind the presents, obscured by traditions and masked by good intentions.
I’m craving HIM this season – not just on the radio, but all around me and in me.
OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.