BLOG #51, SERIES 7
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
DO WE STILL NEED CHRISTMAS?
December 21, 2016
I’ve had a lot of time to think about the season of Christmas during the last 26 years (it normally takes a year to take a book from concept to published copy). Although I grew up loving Christmas, and continued to cherish it during my teaching career, it didn’t really commandeer our lives until that unnumbered white-covered horizontal Christmas in My Heart went through two printings in 1992. From that year on, the season was akin to the proverbial camel that happens to come by a certain tent, pauses because of curiosity, idly gazes at and in the tent, gets more and more interested in what is inside the tent, cautiously approaches the tent, gingerly steps part way into the tent opening, sticks its neck clear into the tent, moves half its body into the tent, the other half follows, and then the camel concludes it’s his tent and he might as well make it his primariy residence.
In short, that has been me: the Christmas camel has moved in with us, and shows not the slightest inclination to leave.
During those 26 years, I have approached Christmas from so many angles and directions that most likely I now understand the season as well as anyone else on the planet.
Inside our mountain home, the Dickens Christmas Village is up all year long, and on the upstairs and downstairs walls are framed pictures of our many Currier & Ives covers. All year long, people write me about Christmas and send me their favorite stories. In some form or another, we’re involved in future Christmas books twelve months of the year.
So now let’s go back to our title question: “Do we still need Christmas?” I submit that never has the world needed it more than it does today. Needed it as it ought to be celebrated, of course. Buying presents for those we’re closest to is a good thing. But giving away presents anonymously is a far greater thing. It used to be that “X number of shopping days until Christmas” lasted no more than a month; then advertisers backed it up to Halloween, and now we’re clear back to late summer. I don’t personally believe we need to spend half of every year listening to Christmas hucksterism.
Another lesson our media has failed to learn is that Christmas movies that are divorced from the One Christmas is all about are hollow and meaningless, contributing precious little to the Christmas season.
Yet, in thousands of Christian homes, the true meaning of Christmas is celebrated every year. Praise the good Lord for that!
One thing is for sure, spiritual values worth living by are not inculcated by abstractions, but rather by stories. And here is where we come in: 402 Christmas stories, hundreds of illustrations, and more than 3,000 pages, add up to ways God has deigned to partner with us, the least and most unworthy of His children. For this we are humbly and profoundly grateful.
Connie and I thank each of you for inviting us into the heart of your home life every Christmas for the last quarter century.
A Christmas blessing to each of you. You have yet four more days of Advent and twelve days of Christmastide. If you read one story a day, Christmas in My Heart 25 will take you all the way to Epiphany on January 6.