What does it mean to have a ‘merry Christmas’? Why are we expected to be so merry? I ponder this as I sit here in my living-room having finally brought in our Christmas tree from the garage along with all the other boxes and plastic storage containers containing our various assortments of Christmas ornaments and decorations. It is morning as I write this and my back is aching not from having brought the decorations in but by the accumulated and growing stress over the past few weeks of my multitude of tasks in preparation for a ‘merry Christmas’. I wanted to have a frugal Christmas and I must say I have done it but in order to give meaningful gifts that don’t cost much money it needed quite a bit of creativity. Creativity costs time. First of all, it needed time to plan what to give. I had no plan. I thought the month of December would be enough to plan and execute but it wasn’t. The month of December may have been enough time to shop and create some DIY gifts but it isn’t enough to plan off the cuff what I am doing while creating, shopping, decorating and baking. Planning should have been done WELL in advance …say September. I probably should have had the gifts all done by end of November and the tree put up before advent began. To try to do it all in a rush in December was not my wisest decision. So although I have saved hundreds of pounds, I have paid the cost in other ways. What I wanted and hoped for this Christmas was to give my family and friends a ‘merry Christmas’ but with minimal stress to myself.
So what does it really mean to have a ‘merry’ Christmas? The Cambridge dictionary defines merry as: happy or showing enjoyment; slightly drunk (UK). The Oxford dictionary defines it as: cheerful and lively characterized by festivity and enjoyment (and also slightly drunk). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines merry as: giving pleasure; full of gaiety or high spirits; marked by festivity or gaiety. So I guess basically whoever coined the phrase, “Merry Christmas” wanted to party, get a bit tipsy and have a good time.
Two things spring to my mind as I reflect on this.
1. Christmas is only one day a year but if there is a party to be had then that takes weeks of preparation and how merry will the stressed-out organizer be?
2.Have we all forgotten that Christmas is for reminding ourselves of the birth of Christ?
While I began the start of December reflecting on the sacrifice of God becoming human for us, this reflection gave way to the preparation of giving a ‘merry Christmas’. If I am being honest, most of us only think about the incarnation on rare occasions. Yet, here before us we have a great opportunity. We have the opportunity in the holiday of Christmas to remember and reflect upon the birth of Christ. God put on human matter because He loves us so much and deemed us important enough to make this sacrifice. Usually, it is the crucifixion that people tend to view as God’s greatest sacrifice and of course I agree it was an incredibly huge sacrifice but I honestly think that becoming human in the first place was the biggest sacrifice and expression of love ever. The bible says all things were created through Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). He who created the entire universe and all within and without and all living creatures and human beings did so in love and in power; but when He Himself became human, He did something which may seem to us as grossly humble. He did it by being born through one of His creation and took upon Himself all the flaws and faults that being human entails. Yet also in doing so, he honoured humanity enough to show solidarity with us even to the extreme measure of taking on mortality at the same time revealing to us that all humans can now partake of divine life. He who is wholly God became wholly human as well. How that is we may never fully understand. God in us and we in God. The idea of it boggles the mind. I cannot explain it but I experience it and embrace it with joy for this is how much God loves us.
Do I now wish for a merry Christmas? No, I have changed my mind and only wish for a Joyous Christmas–a Christmas where bliss resides in the spirit is what I wish for myself and all of you.