The first full week of January 2010 is coming to a close. The year of 2009 is under our belts, and the freshness of the new year is staring us in the face with relatives getting ready to go home, students getting back into routine, and the last hoorahs of the 2 week break quickly fading. Amongst all this, you may notice certain things: carols are no longer sung, people are taking their lights down, and Starbucks is getting rid of their holiday drink lineup. Yep, that's right - the Christmas season is over.
Those 12 days, from Dec. 25th to Jan. 6th (Feast of the Epiphany) always mark such an exciting time each year. The birth of Christ gives everyone the tremendous opportunity to make way for thoughtfulness, peace, and love. The reminder of His birth helps everyone to gather together as a family and to be thankful.
And yet, there is always the possibility for a wave of sadness to sweep over us when the Christmas season ends (sometimes before - even as early as Dec. 26th!). Wishes have been given, the stuffed turkey has been eaten, presents have been opened, and mass has been attended. It can feel as if there is nothing else to do - Christmas has fulfilled its purpose, and we can all get on with the New Year, patiently awaiting the next Christmas celebration. In today's world, where so many things are taken only at face value and then discarded, it can be easy for us to see Christmas as a celebration and event that exists entirely on its own.
We need to remember why we celebrate Christmas. Yes, at Christmas, we celebrate the Incarnation, the birth of Christ. But why? The only reason Christmas has any significance is because of what it leads to - Easter. Without it, Christmas means nothing. People are all born with a God-given purpose, and Christ, through His relationship with the Father, had one too. He was born to die. Through his death and resurrection, he freed us from sin and death. Because of this, we need to constantly remind ourselves that Christmas is not simply the birthday of the Son of God, but a birthday of sorts for all of us; a day that we can be thankful for, for through it Christ enables us to live a new life; to "live life to the fullest" (John 10:10).
Many people know of the phrases "B.C." and "A.D." commonly used to refer whether something took place before the birth of Christ, or after. It was the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Christ that shook world history, and so it seems fitting that our Gregorian calendars use His birth as a reference point. "A.D." though, does not mean "After Death." It is actually Latin for "Anno Domini" which means "in the year of Our Lord." Even 2010 years later, it is still "the year of Our Lord." The birth of Christ ushered in a new age where He reigned, and still reigns, as King. All because of Easter, through Christmas.
So let us see Christmas as a starting point for all of us, and let us never focus only on that wonderful time of year. Let us always remember what it leads to: The passion, the death, and the Resurrection of Our Lord, who through his sacrifice, broke the bonds of sin and death. Let us not see Christmas as a season, or even as a day, to show love and peace, but as the beginning of an eternal showing of love and peace. There is no need to mourn the passing of December! Christ has given us the greatest gift of all; a gift of life - one that leads from Bethlehem to Calvary.
“Oh, no more lights glistening
No more carols to sing
But Christmas...it makes way for Spring.”
-Relient K, "Boxing Day"