Yesterday was a good day. How could it be otherwise, really? We were together as a family: my parents, my brother, my three sisters with their husbands and children and, of course, my wife and kids. It was a wonderful kind of chaos as the twenty-one of us crammed into quite a small house to celebrate Christmas. We laughed and ate and exchanged gifts and cuddled nieces and nephews. But mostly we just talked. It was beautiful.
One thing we did not do was any overt celebration or remembrance of Jesus’ birth. This has never been part of our family tradition, perhaps because my parents were not raised as Christians and hence did not have it as part of their background. Or perhaps because when they were saved they found themselves in conservative, Scottish-influenced circles where Christmas was not celebrated in that way. Either way, our family has always loved Christmas and has always been grateful to God for it, but without specifically making it a day to celebrate the birth of Christ.
There has been a sense in which I’ve felt a little guilty about this, especially when so many Christians heap so much attention on this day. For a while it seemed that we might have been among a majority of Christians; today is seems that we are part of a slim minority. That’s how it feels, anyway.
And yesterday, as I thought about this, I realized that I really have no cause to feel remorse or regret. What gives December 25 its value is not that we dedicate it to special remembrance of the birth of Jesus, though certainly that is a fine thing to do (Romans 14:5). What gives December 25 its value is that Jesus is alive. It is another day for each of us, given in trust and given in love. It is a day we are to use in God’s service and for God’s glory. For some this means setting it aside as a day to mark Jesus’ birthday; for others it means spending time with family and friends and enjoying the good gifts of family and fellowship–these things that have inherent value in being blessings from the hand of God.
I suppose it comes down to this: we do not need to attribute to the day any extra meaning or any extra significance in order for it to be a valuable day or in order to wring from it its greatest worth. The greatest significance of December 25 is that it is a good gift from a good God given for our delight and his glory.