At some point every Christmas my mother would see the short form (Xmas) for Christmas and she would become upset. It was always followed by a statement that our culture was trying to take Christ out of Christmas. Her complaint became part of my yearly celebration along with presents, Christmas trees, turkey and cards.
I tried to explain to her that the X wasn’t really out of our English alphabet. I told her that it was really the Greek letter chi which is the first letter in the Greek word that we translate as Christ but it didn’t seem to matter. The next time that we saw the short form I would hear the same complaint all over again.
We all have things that we wish were still part of our culture’s celebration of the holiday season. Some become bothered that it has become acceptable to wish people a Happy Holiday instead of a Merry Christmas. Others complain that it is no longer acceptable to display nativity scenes in public places. Still others worry about how empty some churches are on Christmas Eve.
There is no question that Christmas is different from what it was thirty or forty or fifty years ago. As Christians that is part of our reality today. We can’t change the culture overnight but we can make Christmas special for ourselves.
We can’t make everyone say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays but we can allow the spirit of Christmas to fill our lives.
We can’t make everyone abandon the short form (Xmas) but we can put Christ at the center of all our celebrations.
We can’t make every town or city display the nativity scene but we can be reminded of the miracle of that first Christmas as we look at the nativity scene in our own home.
Rather than focus on what is wrong with Christmas we can be amazed once again by the miracle that took place.
It is my prayer for each of you that this Christmas will be special not because our culture has encompassed all that we enjoy about the season but because we have decided to focus on the wonder that the little baby born so long ago truly was Immanuel – God with us.
Merry Christmas and a truly blessed New Year.