Several retailers have already sent us reminders that the “Holiday Season” is just ahead. Their emails, banner ads, and glossy inserts include Christmas wreaths, trees, holly branches, pine cones ornaments and snowy scenes. And altogether, these things remind me of past Christmases and evoke excitement about things that we will experience in the weeks before us. Soon there will be Christmas music played on the radio and in stores. We will put up decorations throughout our houses, inside and out. We will go to Christmas parties and plays. We will have family gatherings with loved ones (and some we are thankful to see just once a year). We will buy gifts and open them and experience the thrill of getting new things.
Then it happens. An empty tree stands there with its glory taken away. We suddenly feel both sad and glad that it is over and are compelled to put it all away quickly. A little bit of disappointment sets in. Some get depressed. We don’t want to hear another Christmas song. We are left hoping for spring.
What happened to the promise of the joy of the season? Is it really limited to a few decorations, songs, parties, and exchanged gifts? For many, the excitement of this season comes as we attempt to recreate a feeling that we had at some point in the past. We have fallen in love with a feeling—really, it is a romanticized nostalgic feeling of all our Christmases past—the ghost of Christmas pass, that haunts us. We put up the same decorations, sing the same songs, and observe the same traditions with the hope that we can recapture a feeling that we remember feeling in the past. The problem is that there is no real lasting pleasure in the icons of the season. The lasting pleasure and joy that extends to December 26 and beyond comes out of the relationship that we build with the One whose birthday that is celebrated as the foundation of the season.
Jesus does not leave us with an empty feeling. The deeper we grow in our relationship with Him, the more we realize that He wants to create an amazing present and future to look forward to. We do not need to recreate some experience or feeling from the past to make this season happy. While we can and should honor past memories, they cannot be the source of our hope and the sole source of our joy. What can we invest in this Christmas season that will last beyond 12/25? I suggest that we find ways to get more of Jesus in the mix and less focus on a temporary thrill that we are ready to dump on 12/26. And why not start this weekend and get into the house of God, join a Bible study, and set your heart on being filled with the Holy Ghost and not haunted by the ghost of Christmas past.