Tag: Christmas

The True Meaning of Christmas

This Christmas season has not been an easy one for me. Here I am, Christmas Day, and I’m unemployed, with no idea when or whether I’ll find another job and barely enough money to get me through another month–and that’s after spending several weeks, a month or two ago, looking for work. Financially speaking, this has probably been the most difficult time of my life, and it hasn’t been terribly easy in other regards either: I’ve felt distant from loved ones often, have suffered a lot of fear and uncertainty about my future, and struggled against the crushing feeling that I am sinking back into a routine of life that is going nowhere and profiting me nothing. It has certainly not been a time of carefree joy and happy togetherness.

And yet, as all this has been going on, I have also been more deeply aware of the true meaning of Christmas than ever in my life before. “The true meaning of Christmas.” That’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot nowadays, especially in those sappy “family films” that we all know and love (or hate, as the case may be). And yet, with all this talk, it seems that the meaning of Christmas is still surprisingly elusive. The modern world, by and large, takes that meaning to be as follows: Christmas is a time for giving, for being together with loved ones and reconciling your differences, for being magnanimous towards others and for spreading good cheer wherever you might find yourself. Then of course, there is the commercial side of it, fueled by that very spirit of giving but still all too often erupting into something unhealthy, dry, withered, and ugly. Those things are not bad things (not even commerce, if kept under control–after all, buying and selling brings prosperity!). Yet it seems to me that the secular modern (and all too often, even the religious) world’s understand of Christmas is like a person who looks at an empty house and mistakes it for a home. The soul is missing from the modern notion of Christmas.

So, what is the true meaning of Christmas? The things I listed before are not that meaning, but only its effects: they are a celebration for which the cause has been forgotten or pushed to the background. And that cause is the most profound event in history: that God Himself, the eternal, changeless being, the cause of all that is or ever shall be, the Infinite, Who know human can ever understand or comprehend, chose to become incarnate in human flesh; and what is more, in the flesh of a helpless baby, born of a human woman lowly in all respects save for the extraordinary graces that she was given. Let that sink in. God is infinite, immanent and yet transcendent; He took on a face. God is too vast to be named; He took on a name, and one as common as Jack or Bob, at that. God is all-powerful; he became a helpless baby, utterly dependent on His mother, so fragile that to be left alone for a day could have spelled His death. And He came so that we humans, the oath-breakers, who by right should be cast aside, might become adopted into God’s family and made brothers and sisters of Christ, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone.

That is the mystery that we celebrate, the great paradox, the incredibly wondrous event which is at the heart of all the joyful outer trappings of Christmas. Christmas as we know it, with all those things that have come to be misidentified as its “true meaning,” would not exist without the Incarnation. The festival has become so great only by the power of faith which has borne it up all through the years; and even though the soul has gone out of it in so many places, that ancient wonder is still there holding it up, and will surely continue to do so as long as it is remembered.

Back to the beginning: this Christmas season has been pretty tough for me. But even in the most difficult times, there is still beauty to be found, and I think it is very fitting that I have seen the beauty of Christmas more strongly than ever before in this, my most difficult Christmas season to date.

Merry Christmas!

~ Jared

Assorted Thoughts

It’s a few days late to be posting this, but I might as well–I’ve finished NaNoWriMo. (And yes, I did it on time even though this post isn’t arriving until three days later :P ) I write this post now only because I woke up early for no reason and am being very slow to get about my day in protest. I’ve already been lazing around for a couple of hours wishing to be asleep. But anyway, no reason to sit around complaining. NaNoWriMo. It was hard this year. Much, much harder than last year. Last year the story flowed out of my brain beautifully. I didn’t have any difficulties with it whatsoever until the last few days of the month, where I realized that I had no idea how to end the story despite how well it had been going to that point. But this year… well, I was at least a couple thousand words behind the par wordcount from the 10th of November all the way to the final day. That just gives you an idea. The story fought me at every turn and in the end I decided to give up on finishing it. The last 20,000 words or so of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo were not part of the original story I started, but extras–other scenes, story bits about the pasts of some of the main characters, even a fairy tale–that made reference to and interwove with the main story. Once I switched to writing those it went much better. Now I have a good deal of material to use when and if I ever decide to rewrite this, so I suppose it isn’t a wasted month. Still, I’m disappointed that I didn’t get a finished novel this year….

 

This month, December, I’m going to relax a bit where my writing is concerned. I’ve decided I want to get better at poetry, so I’m going to try to write at least one poem every day this month, but other than that I’m not doing any serious writing. I shall also be picking out and plotting my next novel. I’m going to take my time with this one, give it plenty of thought, and hopefully it will let me write it. I haven’t decided what it will be yet but I do have a few ideas floating around. Preparing to write a new story is always extremely exciting, so I am looking forward to seeing what develops over the rest of the month.

 

Christmas is approaching! I love Christmastime. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, but it occurs to me now that I’ve been so wrapped up in my own thoughts and problems that I’ve hardly taken time to think of it. When I have thought of it, the thoughts have often been concerned with how much I hate the way modern society has twisted the holiday. Whatever your beliefs, Christmas was never meant to be a celebration of commercialism and and mindless, empty sentiments. In the Christian tradition it’s a celebration of Christ’s birth, of salvation; in the Pagan tradition it’s meant to be a joyous festival (on cursory inspection I haven’t found information regarding what exactly was celebrated at Yule in various pagan traditions, and am too tired to do extensive research at the moment); in the secular tradition it’s supposed to be a celebration of love and togetherness. But the stench of modernity has twisted the whole thing and I hate the things this society does. There’s much talk about “the true spirit of Christmas” at this time of year but it seems that so many people don’t get it. Well, I suppose there isn’t much I can do, except try to act in accordance with the spirit of the season myself. Which, I suppose, means I should stop thinking about much I dislike western society’s modern interpretation of the holiday and just enjoy it, be at peace and celebrate salvation and love and joy. So that’s what I’ll do. I shan’t say anything else about how I hate the commercialism and other silly modern things surrounding Christmas anymore in the rest of the month. And what a lovely season it is! Giving gifts and celebrating with friends and family! The festive decorations and the many varieties of delicious food. Once again we are at my favorite time of year, the last vestiges of the sunset before the night of winter really sets in. So a Merry December to all of you!

 

On another note, I’ve been reading G.K. Chesterton lately. I think this has definitely fueled my extreme dislike for modern society. The things he wrote in the late 19th/early 20th centuries still ring true today, even truer even, as society gets worse and worse. Yet that makes the beauty stand out more starkly. The beauty of a kind act, the beauty of the sky and of old crumbled cement and of things working. The duality is astounding.

 

Now I feel a little pretentious and I’m tired and I really ought to get about my day. A shower sounds lovely. And breakfast. It’s too bad I’m all out of pumpkin pie… I made two of them for Thanksgiving and they lasted me a couple weeks… perhaps I will make some pumpkin bread.

 

~ Jared