Dec. 22, 2011
Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to faith and obedience—to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Americans believe Christmas is the most important holiday of the year, the 2011 American Holiday Study, commissioned by the United Methodist Communications, discovered. What are the top Christmas activities families enjoy? They include meals, gifts, decorations and parties. Here are few statistics:
- 94% of us will share a meal
- 76% will exchange gifts
- 63% will decorate their homes
- 58% will have a tree
- 55% will attend a holiday party
- 48% will attend a worship service
- More people will buy a present for themselves than volunteer time
- 42% will make a monetary donation
- 36% will send Christmas emails, but 61 % will still send Christmas cards.
- 60% percent think the holidays are too commercialized and 32% wish they were simpler.
- Most Americans appear more practical about Christmas spending and will spend $250-$499 on presents this year.
The survey discovered that the most popular activities involve connecting with others. It discovered that people really prefer to connect with others at Christmas, rather than purchasing more things. “What everyone seems to agree on is that is that the holidays should not be about consumerism, but about connection with others,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “People want to be in touch with family and friends – to be part of a community, and that’s what the church is all about.”
What activity do people feel is most meaningful? Sharing a meal which 54% identified as most meaningful tradition. In contrast, 14% said attending a worship service as the most significant activity.
Last Sunday, I did a very informal, unscientific survey with our kids atMidlandto see what Christmas activity they enjoy the most. I wasn’t surprised when the first answer I received was “presents.” Several other kids agreed with this young boy. Decorating the tree, visiting Santa and going to Grandma’s also received votes.
Part of what all this information says to me is this: whatever a family places most emphasis on will often be what the kids will take forward as what is most important and significant for them in celebrating Christmas.
I see this in my own life. The events and things I remember most fondly (and have written about in this blog), are the things that my Mom felt were important and instilled in me and my siblings while growing up. I can’t imagine skipping church on Christmas Eve. Even when I was overseas, we found a place to worship. The crèche, the Advent wreath, Christmas dinner, decorating our often Charlie Brown Christmas tree, reading the Christmas story before eating Christmas dinner: these are all things my Mom impressed upon me and I feel are important.
What’s all of this to say? Think about the Christmas traditions and events that are most important to you. Do you celebrate these things? Are they something you celebrated as a child or when did this tradition begin? If you have children and/or grandchildren, have you celebrated these things with them so they can develop this as a personal tradition?
The whole reason we celebrate Christmas is because people realized that there was a story about how Baby Jesus was born. Someone – the author of Luke’s gospel – felt it was important to share how it all happened. And so, this “tradition” of celebrating Jesus’ birth has been passed down from generation to generation. His birth and the implications of it are no longer a secret. The information is widely available for us to hear and choose whether or not to believe.
Personally, I think his birth is worth celebrating. Developing meaningful ways to recall, remember and celebrate Jesus’ birthday are important. I pray that you have special traditions that you will utilize and share with your family in the next few days. After all, we Americans have declared that Christmas is the most important holiday of the year.
Let us pray: Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all t he earth. Ye who sang creations’ story now proclaim Messiah’s birth. Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King. I pray that we will have meaningful ways to celebrate this great event this year. Amen.