It’s that time of year again. The time when I’m last-minute shopping because “oh my gosh, it’s 9 days until Christmas, how the crap did that happen?” Trying to get things (always the things) ordered in time so they can get under the tree in time with mixed success.
It’s the time of baking Christmas cookies to share with others and getting into conversations about the best way to eat those peanut butter blossoms with the Hershey’s Kiss right in the middle (eat the outside of the cookie, then that last little bit right under the chocolate and the chocolate all at once at the end).
It’s the time of scrolling through Netflix to find your favorite Christmas movies and realizing that all of the holiday movies have either 5 stars or 1 star.
And it’s the time of scrolling through your Facebook feed and seeing lots of posts about keeping Christ in Christmas.
Keeping Christ in Christmas means different things to different people. For some, it is a literal fight to keep people from abbreviating the word Christmas. For some, it is a desire to keep from secularizing a religious holiday. For some, it is a reminder of the ideals that Christ taught us – those of love, peace, justice.
As a Christian, there has always been a religious element for me in my Christmas celebrations. I love children’s Christmas pageants and candlelight services. I love singing Christmas carols and someone sings the high note on O Holy Night. I love advent wreaths and the story of a young mother giving birth, though that last one has a bit of a sting to it this year.
And I think that’s what keeping Christ in Christmas means to me this year. It’s keeping Christ in the Christmas story, not jumping ahead to his death.
Pregnancy and birth are fragile things. About one in six women experience the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth and it’s likely those numbers weren’t better in Mary’s day. There was vulnerability the moment that Jesus became a fetus. There was risk in the act of being born.
This year I want to celebrate the miracle of the birth. An infant holding onto his mother’s finger, suckling at her breast, falling asleep in her arms. I want to celebrate the when God was maybe a little more man than God. When God was Emmanuel just a little bit more fully than on the cross.
I want to think about the time that God was here with us. Not the end, but the beginning. The time when the role of the creator and the created were more interwoven than ever before or ever since. The time when a woman was central to the story of salvation. The time when humans didn’t just need God, but were needed by God.
This holiday, I will keep Christ in Christmas by remembering that God with us was risky and that risk is worth celebrating.