Since Thanksgiving, I’ve watched lots of Hallmark Christmas movies. They are, indeed, a pleasant, predictable diversion. I can do a load of laundry or work on my knitting without fear that I’ll miss something. There is always an hour and a half where the couple falls accidentally in love; there will be a crisis of trust about 8:30, and a resolution of the conflict about 8:55, followed by a kiss and a declaration of love. Everyone, it would appear, lives happily ever after, all by 9:00 p.m.
However, there’s a glaring omission in all these Christmas stories: Jesus. If Hallmark is the purveyor of all things Christmas, one could get the idea that tree lightings and gingerbread house-building contests are all that people need to get into the “Spirit of the Season”—which really means finding warm, happy feelings toward the people around you, while you scour the local retail establishments in search of the perfect gift. Considering that at least one person on every show is grieving, finding solace in tradition is a tall order. Sorry, Hallmark. That’s not how Christmas works.
Without Jesus, there is no season. Who in their right mind celebrates snowmen? Snow is a hazard. Sure, it’s pretty, but anyone who has to drive to work in it has anything but warm, happy feelings. Cold weather festivals? Move them inside, please. I shop better when I’m warm. Gingerbread and hot chocolate? Tasty, but that’s about it. Tree-lighting ceremonies? Nice for community-building, but it only takes seconds to flip a switch.
Did anyone notice that in all the Hallmark celebrating, no one went to church? Christmas Eve was reserved for work or family parties. Caroling was as close as it came to mentioning the savior, and “Round yon virgin, mother and child” was the only mention of the real reason for the party. Jesus was surprisingly absent from the holiday meant to celebrate His birthday. In fact, no one mentioned his name.
Jesus has no substitutes, not even the love of your life. The reason we have warm, happy feelings is that Jesus had them first. Hot chocolate, lights, cookies, even life-long love are all temporary. We celebrate the season because there is truly something worth celebrating: eternal life!