Now that December is here, we all know what that means — ready or not Christmas is just around the corner. Are you ready?
We’ve talked a lot over the years about the true meaning of Christmas, the significance of some of our most treasured ornaments, and the history of some of our most beloved traditions. This seems to be a favorite as each year people tell me they enjoy the reminder, so here we go again.
You’re all set for Christmas. The stockings are hung, the tree is decorated and everyone has a present under the tree. You’ve baked the cookies, the ham is in the freezer and you’re ready for the big day.
As you had to bed on Christmas Eve, you stop to remember if you have left the milk and cookies out for Santa. Yes, even that’s taken care of. But hold on a moment, are you missing something? What does Christmas really mean? Is it about getting presents and waiting up for Santa?
The word Christmas itself should give us some hint of what Christmas is all about. It originally started with the birth of Jesus more than two thousand years ago. Jesus’ birth is very important to Christians all over the world.
Families celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways. Some put up a lot of lights and decorations, some have huge family get-togethers with all the aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, others go to a Christmas Eve church service, while other don’t celebrate Christmas at all.
Sometimes I think we need to be reminded that Christmas is not just about presents, Santa, or a big feast.
My daughter grew up knowing “The Christmas Story,” which is a paraphrased version of the birth of Jesus taken from the books of Matthew and Luke in the New Testament of the Bible. It gives a biblical account of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth. I have since enjoyed sharing the story with my granddaughters.
One of the most common complaints I hear during the Christmas season is that it has become too commercialized. This is something I’ve heard for many years now. Each year, we see the stores begin to advertise and display for Christmas earlier and earlier. We can go most anywhere and shop for Christmas decorations and buy our trick-or-treat candy at the same time.
I have to say, one of the things I most enjoy about Christmas is the lights. I love to drive around and look at all the pretty, colorful lights. I also love decorating my Christmas tree. All the ornaments have to be just so-so. Have you ever given any thought about what some of our primary Christmas ornaments represent?
As a Christian, this is what I’m reminded of each year while decorating my Christmas tree. The star represents the star which led the three wise men to the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.
Red is one of the primary colors of Christmas, and it symbolizes the blood Jesus shed for mankind.
Green is another color which symbolizes Christmas, and that brings me to the Christmas tree. The shape of the Christmas tree, with its three corners, illustrates the Trinity — the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
Since the first Christmas, bells ring to signify joy and churches today use bells to call people to worship. The candle symbolizes Christ as the light of the world; the gift bow represents the tying together of goodwill; and the wreath is a symbol of the never-ending circle of love.
The candy cane represents the shape of the shepherd’s staff. Turn it around, and it becomes J-shaped, which represents Jesus.
These are traditional Christmas symbols which most of us have grown up with and enjoyed over the years. As we celebrate Christmas, may we remember its true meaning.
Gloria Wall’s column appears Fridays in the Journal Review. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.