Merry (sort of) Christmas!
BY MAJOR MAL DAVIES
No, your calendar’s not wrong and, no, you’ve not been in a six-month coma – this is indeed a Christmas article in July. Are we early, are we late? Maybe both.
At Christmas the world changes and, generally, for the better. Sure, you get some Scrooges who go the whole ‘bah, humbug’ on you and, yes, you have the annual problem of whether or not you invite Uncle Terry (who always sneezes on the trifle). However, these are minor and surmountable issues, far outweighed by the good stuff.
I’m not talking about the food and presents, I’m talking about the whole ‘tidings of comfort and joy’ thing that happens. People seem more joyful at Christmas. We sing, whistle and hum more. We’re more optimistic, more hopeful, more buoyant, more jovial.
In short, we’re happier with ourselves and with the world. Even when we get to the toy shop and the shelves are empty or we burn the roast turkey on Christmas Day, we still manage to find a solution and a smile, and – if nothing else – it gives us a story to tell next Christmas.
We hear or sing along with songs that talk about joy, love, peace, goodwill, happiness, smiling faces and good news. Even the media outlets find some cheery stories: a community holding its first street party; a charity overwhelmed with generous donations of toys; a couple holding their first child after its birth on Christmas Day; a city park aglow with lights and decorations and tinsel.
Really, can you think of another time like Christmas when the world seems better and brighter? It’s quite unique. Sadly.
I mean, why can’t we hang on to that feeling a bit longer? In fact, why can’t we maintain it all year, like … even in July?
While I consider myself an introvert, I enjoy Christmas crowds. I’ll often go into town on 23 or 24 December even if I don’t have to buy any presents. I like the hustle and bustle of the crowd; the music in the air; the various Santas; the smells of food, and the decorations. Most of all, I like that people just seem happier. They smile more. And I can’t help but say to myself: why aren’t people like this more often? Why do we wait til December to be happy?
So what if we celebrated Jesus every day, what would the world look like then?
At the core of Christmas is not a large, elderly, man with a white beard and red suit, it’s the anniversary celebration of the birth of a baby more than 2,000 years ago. A baby who grew to be a man who impacted world history and how humans live more than any person who’s ever lived.
His name is Jesus and he taught about love and grace and forgiveness and truth and a whole range of other things. And he taught and lived them so emphatically that billions of people have and still do try to emulate him. Do all Christians get it right? No, we’re not Jesus. But he gives us someone to aspire to; a role model for the ages.
At Christmas we celebrate his birth and the world is a happier place. So what if we celebrated Jesus every day, what would the world look like then? What if every day we smiled more and were happier? What if every day we tried to show each other grace and forgiveness? What if every day we championed truth? What if every day we showed love more?
Christmas doesn’t have to be a once-a-year thing, it can be an every-day thing. Even today, in July.
Major Mal Davies is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in South Australia.