Well, now that finals and Christmas are over, I’ve had some time to relax (which has been a great Christmas present all by itself). Today it is so easy for Christians to forget about the true meaning of the Christmas celebration when we are caught up in fixing fancy meals, decorating, shopping, and wrapping presents. When scrambling to the stores, watching the oven to make sure the cookies don’t burn, and stressing over whether or not we got everyone nice presents in the right sizes, colors, etc., we often neglect that all that stuff is secondary- as we’ve already received the best gift we could ask for, one that far surpasses whatever is waiting under the tree in pretty boxes, 2,000 years ago in a manger in Bethlehem.
In my freshman year of college, I read a book called “What is God?” by John Haught. One of the ways in which Haught explains the nature of God is by describing a human phenomenon called the “melancholy of fulfillment.” No matter how much we achieve or earn, we will never be completely satisfied. No matter what, we will always want more. How true is this especially during the Christmas season! We feast on our favorite Christmas treats, but they do not satisfy us all year long. We will still be hungry and in need of more food and beer as the year progresses. We often receive the gadgets, toys, clothes, games, etc. that we asked for- yet we will still ask for more next year. The newest gadgets will no longer be exciting when new ones are invented, clothes will get dirty and worn out, children will outgrow their toys. And of course, this phenomenon does not only happen during Christmas- it happens all year round. I still remember being a frightened high school senior whose dream was to go to Fordham- that was it, just to go. And of course, I was thrilled when I got accepted and my family, albeit sacrifice, was able to help me pay for it. But then I got to Fordham and just going there was no longer enough. I wanted friends. I wanted to make the Dean’s List. And then when I was granted both of those things, I wanted even more. Sure, I’ve had plenty of happy moments and I thank God every night before I go to sleep for all the things I have accomplished that I never thought I would. But accomplishments get old, memories fade, and no matter what, we will always find ourselves wanting more of something- whether its people in our lives, money, recognition, etc.
But, my friends, we need not despair! We will not be left wanting forever. There is an ultimate satisfaction, where we will all truly have our fill and desire nothing more. That ultimate satisfaction is God. God is the ultimate future where nothing is missing. And that is why that first Christmas in Bethlehem so long ago was such a gift. For on that day, God came in to the world as one of us, so we could come to know just how much God loves us. Jesus is unique, unlike any other present we will ever receive. While other presents break, get stolen, become useless when the seasons change, or become uninteresting over time, Jesus never goes away. No one can steal Him from us. Unlike our Christmas trees, He does not leave us when Christmas season is over.
So yes, Christmas is over. Its time to take down the lights, put away the gifts that have already been opened. Its time to go back to work or school. Yes, much of the excitement of the season goes away quickly, leaving us pretty bummed after December 25th. However, the best gift that we all received has not gone away and never will. The gift of Jesus stays with us all year round. We cannot outgrow Him or stop needing Him, as He will hear our calls for help during the difficulties that we will face in this upcoming year. Even though we rely on Him so much more than the gifts we buy at the store, Jesus will not leave us in debt. Finally, we can experience His love every single day regardless of whether or not we have been naughty or nice. We may not get to see pretty lights anymore or smell the delicious aroma of Christmas cookies, but we can experience the miracle of Christmas every single day of the year if we open our hearts. And that, my friends, is a reason to keep celebrating!