I used to be a very firm believer in “Christmas season starts after Thanksgiving!” This logic followed my unspoken belief that Christmas was, in fact, a holiday co-opted from the corporate drive to spend, rather than co-opted by aforementioned corporate drive to spend. In other words, I wanted Christmas to start after Thanksgiving because I felt like I’d already lost one of the highest Holy Days in my religion to spending and had to scratch and claw a way to make it meaningful.
That was the unspoken belief. When I examined what I knew I believed about Christmas, and what I wanted to believe about it, I understood it to be the day upon which the greatest gift was begun. After all, Christmas is the day we celebrate Christ’s birthday, but the real celebration is that God in his abundance and goodness gave us Jesus, that Jesus in his love and abundance and goodness and submission to the Father saw it as a joy to be given. It’s a season about receiving from a generous God a gift beyond what we could ever return.
To celebrate this holiday, we give gifts. In other words, when you are a gift giver at Christmas, you are acting out God’s role in the Christmas story, not the role of the human beings. Yes, when we receive, we act out the human role. When we give, we act out the role of God, enacting the Imago Dei. In that light, I think the best way to prepare for our role in the story of the annual Christmas celebration is to the see the abundance from which we give. Thanksgiving is all about seeing what we already have and already have been given. By spending time meditating on that in the midst of the Christmas season, we see how adequately and abundantly we are prepared to give. Gratefulness breeds generosity. Generosity also breeds gratefulness. Weaving these holidays together, for me, strengthens the impact and relevance of both, both spiritually and practically.
So from me to you, welcome to the Christmas season!