Anyone who knows me well knows that I LOVE Christmas. It's the way to win my heart. People can get me to say 'yes' to pretty much anything if they dangle a candy cane in front of my face or bribe me with a Starbucks red cup. I love cutting down our own Christmas tree, the huge Christmas breakfast with cranberry scones, cookie baking, candy making, Christmas Eve service, long movie marathons after finals, and getting teary-eyed when Nat King Cole comes on, because his rendition of The Christmas Song is just plain beautiful folks. I enjoy going to the mall for the sake of just going and not having to worry about shopping, because I pretty much had that done and in the can in August. And I'm always keeping my fingers crossed that we get snow. So I'm all-in with the holidays.
But to chase all of these things during the Christmas season, not realizing they are merely shadows, things that point to something greater and real, is to miss the heartbeat of Christmas. It will leave you with what sociologists have now dubbed 'the Christmas hangover' or 'Christmas Blues.' Shadows are not THE substance. Shadows are merely things we can enjoy that point us to the substance: Christ. I'm not going to stand on my soapbox and be that Christian that says we shouldn't celebrate Christmas because of consumerism and Santa (which for the record, we did when I was growing up, and I think I turned out all right, nor do I harbor any resentment towards my parents... they just told us there was a secret to Santa for us to figure out). I'm saying enjoy the shadows... the tree trimming, the presents, the huge amounts of calories... but they should be treated as gifts and blessings to draw us closer to Christ.
If we get to the end of this celebratory month, and don't have more of Jesus... then I think we've failed. Enjoy, delight, and savor the traditions, the food... everything that's unique and special to the season, but let it push you closer to Christ, instead of clinging to the shadows.