I’m taking a break from making it look as though St. Nick has slid down our chimney and miraculously moved about freely in our living room, in the dark no less, all while managing to avoid stepping on one of your ill-placed and violently pointy toys, thus waking you all with a mighty HO-HO-HOLY SH#*^!!!!!
Clean up after yourselves.
Anyway- as I was saying… I’m taking a break from this wonderful ruse because I have a very important thought I’d like to share with you before it slips my mind. This is something that matters to me greatly, and should I leave this earth for any reason before you are all ready to say goodbye, and you find yourselves in times of reflection, searching for the pearls of wisdom a father should be around to share with a son, at least remember this:
Christmas doesn’t matter.
You may be confused by this statement, as we celebrate this holiday every year. Not only that, your mother and I go all out with both the customary Americanized capitalist holiday extravaganza, as well as the somber-yet-celebratory religious rituals. They’re both great. They just don’t really matter. Christmas is the most spectacular of meaningless conventions.
Before I expand on why I believe this day lacks significance, let me define for you, in order of importance, what does matter.
2) Your family.
3) The people you have yet to make your family.
Are you taking care of yourself in a way that would allow you to be of substance to others when they are in need? Because, my sons, that’s the only thing that matters. Any good and enjoyable endeavor in life is only worthwhile insofar as you first and foremost have these priorities in line. Christmas included.
On the day I’m writing this, Micah is 5, Jett is 4, and Fisher is 5 months. Micah and Jett- you fight each other relentlessly. There is no topic too mundane for the two of you to have a soap-opera worthy conflict over. I resisted the urge just this afternoon to beg you to be civil to each other for the sake of Christmas, and all that Christmas represents. I did this because Christmas doesn’t matter. You need to respect yourselves enough to be secure about things like whether the line in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is “You’ll go down in history,” or “you’ll go down in a story” without it escalating to a level of tension that would make Kim Jong Un sweat. You need to have this type of discernment in March as much as you do in December.
Too often, we treat the holiday season the same way we treat the 30 minutes before a long overdue dentist appointment- brushing vigorously in hopes that it’ll somehow magically fill several rotting cavities that have built up over months of neglect. On Christmas, we draw near to family, with cavities in our relationships that we hope go unnoticed due to the spirit of the season. While many could argue that the holidays are a blessing, and they wouldn’t be in the same room with estranged family if not for the custom of coming together for Christmas, simply being physically adjacent to each other is nothing to maintain pride about.
On Christmas Eve we sit in church pews, listening to millennia-old stories of a baby born into rumors of adultery, heresy and usurpation so that he could donate his time, wisdom and body to all of mankind. As Benjamin Franklin said, “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts!” I can tell you with certainty that while I don’t pretend to fathom all of what Christ’s precepts are, it’s hard to imagine, based on what I do know, that he’d be overly occupied with the celebration of his birthday… especially not by forcing people to use his last name in lieu of “Happy Holidays.” We picked a day to celebrate the Lord of Lords’ birthday on. There’s no reason we can’t (or shouldn’t) spread the party out a bit. It’s as important on the hottest day of summer as it is in the early weeks of winter.
What I want for you, as you age, is to be able to enjoy the Christmas season as a natural extension of how you live your lives the other 11 months of the year. As brothers, please do your best to take care of yourselves- physically, spiritually, mentally, even fiscally, so that you have both the desire and the means to draw near and take care of each other whenever necessary. Never hesitate to expand your definition of family, welcoming new people into your lives and showing them that the tidings of comfort and joy aren’t simply relegated to the time of year that charity is in fashion.
It may be in vain, but I will continue to do my best to make sure that I illustrate each day to be an equal gift as the one where you spend the morning unwrapping physical gifts. I’ll do this, because Christmas doesn’t matter… at least, not as much as the people I celebrate it with.