Christmas Vs. NYC 

Doesn’t matter who I’ve talked to recently — Christian baby boomers, non-religious 20-somethings, an 8-year-old girl, my friends, the cute guy sitting behind me at church, the cashier at the grocery store — everyone’s in agreement about one thing:

It doesn’t feel like Christmas.

I don’t know if it’s the lack of snow, or all the negativity in the media, or the fact that LED twinkle lights are officially taking over as the norm, but one thing’s for sure…it’s December 12, and people are not in the Christmas spirit.

Living in NYC is so special…especially around the holidays. There really is nothing comparable. The lights, the shopping, the smell of roasting chestnuts, the Christmas displays, the holiday markets, the ice skating…it’s something you’ve got to experience in person to truly appreciate.

But I dunno…this year, it just hasn’t been quite the same.

I’m not seeing quite as many decorations up. I’m not hearing hardly any Christmas music. There just isn’t that cheer that has been such a mainstay around this time of year.

I was thinking about this the other night. I had a free evening, so I went to the candlelight Christmas concert at my church. And it was truly as beautiful as it sounds. A cappella music; that breathtaking, non-LED, amber glow from real candles; and a stunning church to boot – complete with holly accents.

And it was in that moment that I had one of those, stomach-dropping moments.

I asked myself, “Is Christmas dead?”

Sure, maybe inside my church walls, it’s alive and well…but walk outside these red doors and it’s a different story. A somber thought indeed.

The next morning, I was at brunch with my friends and we were all talking about our holiday travel plans. Who was visiting the houses of a significant other for the first time, who was going to be in town for New Year’s Eve…you know…the worries and preoccupations of a typical 20-something.

But the conversation suddenly found itself in a discussion about the meaning of Christmas. And all the questions were directed at the resident-Christian…me.

What’s the big deal between ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays?’ Why can’t everybody just say, “Merry Christmas?” Because to many of my friends…Christmas was just a time of year. It was that “feel good” time with family and friends, and Christmas trees, snowmen and Santa Claus. What’s the big deal if a Jewish person says “Merry Christmas?” Why would they even care– Christmas is just a cultural, seasonal holiday anyway? Can’t we all just be in agreement about “Merry Christmas?” 

And I suddenly found myself trying to articulate the difference between Judiasim and Christianity.

And I was explaining to one of my non-Christian, non-anything friends how Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus. And that, unlike Jewish people, Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah – the “Bringer” of our Salvation. And so, in essence, Christmas is the celebration of the point of our faith. We’re celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I cited how at my house, we make a gingerbread house with my niece one day, and then the next day, we make a birthday cake for Jesus.

And he took this all in. And we ended the conversation by coming to the agreement that Christmas, in actuality, is a deeply personal time of year. Because contrary to what culture dictates, whether it’s “CHRISTmas” or just another cultural celebration, a la, Thanksgiving, it actually means something. And to the people who say ‘Merry Christmas’ because of the birth of Jesus, it means something much deeper than just the season of White Peppermint Mochas and tidings of good cheer.

And maybe it was the 2 Mimosas I was currently processing on an empty stomach, but hearing those words coming out of my mouth, as I was explaining the point of Christmas to a non-believer…it dawned on me…

Something that I’m not proud to admit.

So far this year, I’m guilty of experiencing a Jesus-less Christmas.

Which sounds horrible. I know. It’s not like I’m denying my Savior, but admittedly, He hasn’t been the focus of this time of year just yet.

This year, I don’t know, I guess I have just been so wrapped up in the busyness of Christmas, rather than the miracle.

And hearing myself explain, in “kid english” what Christmas was all about, I realized….that’s what was missing.

I had forgotten about Jesus.

After all, isn’t that the real point of Christmas?

I’ve never been one to really fall into the “War-On-Christmas”-camp, but I do think that there’s some truth to the de-Jesus-ing of Christmas. We want to celebrate Christmas, and have our red-and-green, and Santa hats, and say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” which is all well and good…but where is Jesus in all of that?

I have this visual in my head of the manger scene, but instead of an amber-lit, peaceful scene of Baby Jesus’ humble beginnings, His manger is buried under Macy’s boxes, Starbucks cups, Hatchimals, and competitively-lit Christmas light displays.

So, realistically, what can we do about this?

Because honestly….it’s tough. There are still going to be parties to attend and travel plans to make. And even with the help of Amazon, those gift’s ain’t gonna buy themselves.

I think at the end of the day, it’s gotta come back to Jesus.

If there’s one Christmas decoration to put up this year…(besides the tree)…it’s the manger scene.

Because just like literally everything else in life…Jesus isn’t going to boisterously shove His presence into our lives. He’s going to just be there, quietly, not seeking attention, as that Little Baby, softly cooing and being peaceful. He’s always there, available, just waiting for us to come in and keel beside the manger. But we’ve got to decide to do so.

So maybe that’s what I need to do more of.

Take a breather, and go back to the manger. Look in and see the Christ Child in His infancy, knowing full well the magnitude and significance His birth brings to our salvation.

Because without that perspective, Christmas is just an empty holiday. Filled with “feel-good” traditions, patrolling elves on shelves, and unhealthy doses of materialism.

Maybe I should take to heart that soliloquy I uttered at brunch yesterday, while waiting for my pancakes to arrive.

Really, what does Christmas mean?

It’s time to go back to the manger.

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310 responses to “Christmas Vs. NYC ”

  1. I agree with you. This year’s Christmas season definitely has a different vibe to it. I think it’s more of people quietly winding down the end of the year than celebrating. And there are a number of reasons to want to do that as you mentioned. It’s a shame but it’s the reality, however, it doesn’t have to be YOUR reality. 🙁

  2. Good job again. You are always transparent with what you post a good trait. I find most people have pretty made up their minds about what Christmas is or is not and are pretty unmovable. You took advantage of a chance to witness the result is in God’s hands. A bigger witness is your own admission of something missing. I stay impressed with your writing skill and personal approach to topics. Stay with it you have it right. Thanks for sharing. John

    • thanks so much, John 🙂 I appreciate your encouraging words. You’re right – people are pretty much “set” in what they believe about christmas. Still, it was a good convo, and I’m grateful that my friends wanted to chat about such things! thanks for the reflection! big hugs xox

  3. Great post! For years, I tried to fight the “retail Christmas” , as I was convinced Christmas had been hijacked by corporate barons in penthouse suites. It really is up to us! I see the Inn as symbolic of our hearts…will we make room for Jesus? Important conversation with your friends! I wish I could have gone to your church service with you. Thank you for sharing your walk of faith!

  4. Great post! My friends and I have just been talking about how Christmas is rushing up and we don’t feel connected to it. The Holy Spirit is using this post to make me dig a little deeper.

  5. So, I couldn’t help but notice your use of “Jewish person” and “Jewish people.” It’s okay to say Jew or Jews. I’m not sure why so many people don’t–it’s definitely a common thing–but it really is okay. I’m a Jew. When I’m in synagogue or making a Seder, I’m with a bunch of Jews.

    Think about it this way: most of us don’t say Christian people or Muslim people or Hindu people. We say Christians, Muslims or Hindus. By the same token, go ahead and say Jews.

    Okay, got that off my chest!

    As for the rest–I’m not offended if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. Heck, a lot of Christmas seems to involve non-Jews sending cards to each other with pictures of a nice Jewish couple with a newborn. Why should I complain about that? 😉

    Plus, my family is a mixture of Jews and Christians. We actually celebrate Christmakkah.

    Meanwhile, my greeting of choice is Happy Holidays when I don’t know what religion the person is or I know they don’t practice anything. If I know they’re Christian, I’ll use Merry Christmas, if I know they’re Wiccan, I’ll wish them a Happy Yule–you know, whatever’s appropriate to their heritage/beliefs/faith/culture.

    All that said, it doesn’t matter to me if we have a difference of opinion on the identity of the Messiah (and the definition of Messiah to begin with, and different views of human nature, etc.) God seems to reach out to you through Christ, so I wish you a Christ-centered Christmas and many, many blessings.

    • Hi Jenn! Thank you so much for this! That’s so good to know about the term Jews. Thank you! I didn’t know if it was an insensitive term so thank you for clearing that up:) you’re right-I tend to do the same when wishing people H.H/M.C. — if I know a person’s faith, I’ll wish them accordingly. It was just an interesting convo over brunch. Definitely unexpected! Thanks for stopping by! Big hugs xox

      • I guess so many people are afraid that it’s insensitive because some people use the term “Jew” as a negative adjective. (As in “that Jew lawyer.”) But, used properly–as in, “I’m a Jew, she’s a Christian, he’s a Muslim,” it’s completely fine.

  6. Found this post really interesting. I am way over the other side of the pond and for me and many that I have spoken to Christmas seems to have come earlier than usual. It has been a turbulent year all around the world, but for us it seems, Christmas has served as a reminder of the goodness that we must always seek out. Your faith is much stronger than mine, but for me the message of compassion and understanding seems to be what is reigning strong and I think that is something all people of sound mind can understand, regardless of faith. May this message seek you and your friends and a Merry Christmas xx

    • Thank you so much, Emma. I really appreciate your kind words. Yeah, it is definitely falling during a time when a lot of people’s emotions are raw, that’s for sure. But you’re right — there is definitely goodness to be found. thanks for stopping by. hugs xox

  7. Thank you for yet another very meaningful post. I don’t know how to add a photo here, but on Instagram (where I’m known as maineyankee) I’ve posted this photo of my favorite Christmas tree ornament. The link below may work, but if it doesn’t, it’s a figurine of Santa Claus kneeling, hat removed, before the manger of the baby Jesus. We have three nativity sets around the house as well, and one lit up in the snowy front yard as well. While the world secularizes even the word, Christmas, we just keep it quietly before us.

    • Hi David! Thank you so much for your kind words! Oh awesome! I’ll definitely head over there and check it out. Sounds like a powerful image. You’re right-gotta remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! Hugs xox

  8. Strip away all of the glitz and tinsel and even the angels and shepherds and the heart of Christmas will be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Mary, a young virgin who loved God above all things. Joseph, a just man who sought to obey God in all things. And Jesus, Mary’s newborn son and the Son of God who came to obey His Father’s will and open the gates of Heaven.

    And that is what Christmas is all about. 🙂

  9. Great post as usual I love your writing style, so honest and free flowing. Is Christmas losing Jesus? I would say only to those who aren’t looking for Him. I am cooped up in my house due to cancer treatments this Christmas, so have not had a chance to see any lights, or shopping, or any of that stuff. But I have drawn closer to Jesus this year. If I was out running around, perhaps my attention would be distracted from Jesus to all those other trappings of Christmas. Maybe I’m fortunate to be cooped up!

    • Thanks Pete. I really appreciate your kind words. You’re right–for those who seek Him in the season, He’s there. I’m so glad you’ve had such a fruitful year with Christ. I’m so happy for you. 🙂 big hugs to you friend xox

  10. Love your post. I must admit that have always wanted to go to NYC. It’s in my bucket list. I will, one day. I think Christmas time would be especially magical. And, on a side note…I say “Merry Christmas” to everyone! And, every person I say it to, says it back, as well. 🎁🎅🏻🐴🎄

  11. Sometimes we overthink things! Wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the holiday. It is the Spirit of the season not the lights and things that make it meaningful! Do something special for someone who least expects it!

  12. Another reason this Christmas seems so un-Christmas-like is the elephant in the room: our nation next month will be blissfully handed over to a TV “reality” show personality who acts like a Ritalin-deprived tween who’s spent his entire life being coddled and doesn’t know how to behave like a human being because no one ever cared enough to teach him, and his gang of far right thugs that make the worst of the Bush-Cheney years look like the rank amateur fascists they were, by a far right Democrat regime that has wasted eight years coddling Republicans instead of making good on all the progressive-sounding promises it made to get elected to the presidency in 2008. We are facing extinction by the end of the century of not sooner, because we now have climate-change-deniers hell bent on ensuring that there won’t even be the pretense of doing anything about it (Obama the faker only made the barest of pretenses even as he handed our public spaces over to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries). We are facing a major war that could easily go nuclear because the neocons are back in full control—although, to be honest, they never fully left after 2008 and were instead welcomed by Obama—and a nuclear war would end all life on the planet, including microbes, from nuclear winter. More and more Black and brown people will be brutalized, imprisoned, and murdered by out-of-control police. More and more violent sociopaths will lash out with guns at anyone and everyone the incoming fuhrer tells them they can lash out at, and our national gun death toll will continue to rise unabated. What few rights LGBTQ persons have managed to win for themselves over the past eight years in spite of obstruction from Obama and his fellow far right Democrats will be terminated with extreme prejudice by Drumpf and his far right Republicans. And what remains of our tattered social safety net will be eliminated without so much as a peep from Democrats, who’ve wanted since the 1970s to do away with the New Deal and return to their southern dixiecrat roots.

    What in God’s name is there to feel cheerful about this holiday season? Sorry about the extended political rant, but really, although I can and certainly do lament how much Christ has been removed from the holiday bearing his title (by people so obsessed with their true god, the almighty dollar, that they’ve marginalized his teachings or eliminated them altogether), there is so much dread right now it fills the air. There’s the knowledge that as bad as things have been these last thirty-sixe years, they’re about to get so much more brutal now, and we’re merely at the threshold of a nightmare that may only end when humanity does, and that is likely to come sooner than anyone cares to realize.

  13. Oh yes. Away from all the commercialization, and get back to the Manger, looking forward to the Cross, the Resurrection, and the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
    God’s Blessings.

  14. Hello BBB,

    Things are changing, for sure. Maybe this is a blessing to get back to a simpler celebration. I prayed that the Lord would create the right atmosphere for his Holy Spirit to work and for heart to open. Maybe it is a door of disillusion that is opening.

    Thanks for sharing,


    On Mon, Dec 12, 2016 at 3:59 PM, BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

    > beautybeyondbones posted: “Doesn’t matter who I’ve talked to recently — > Christian baby boomers, non-religious 20-somethings, an 8-year-old girl, my > friends, the cute guy sitting behind me at church, the cashier at the > grocery store — everyone’s in agreement about one thing: It d” >

  15. I did something similar in Denver arguing with a screenwriter about the crucifixion. Mostly, the importance and meaning of it. After talking, I realized without faith it is hard to comprehend. It seems like a no win answer but I feel as we mature our faith also matures. I usually skip Christmas. I just keep working it’s my tradition.

      • Me too! Some time ago I went to a woman in my family known for her wisdom and faith. After confessing my confusion and my failings, she just smiled and said, “He knows.” And reminded me that grace is perfect. It was more freedom and peace than I could comprehend.

  16. Yes I’ve been getting a lot of secular season celebration ideas and thoughts from others. Others telling me that they celebrate because it’s just a celebratory time and they don’t celebrate anything about Jesus at all with Christmas. So yes the secularization of a Christian celebration, whether they even know it or not 😉 But one comment I made was, that’s sorting of like celebrating my car for Thanksgiving. The two just aren’t related. I can try really hard to make Thanksgiving all about my car/our cars though…..can’t I? Or possibly we can celebrate a rabbit instead of Christ’s being raised from the dead!? Great post, thank you for taking the time to write it 🙂

  17. I come from a Christian family, but I don’t consider myself particularly religious. I’ve always struggled with the concept of religion, but it is there in the back of my mind once in a while. I can appreciate Christianity, even though I don’t feel connected to it… I think it’s a beautiful religion. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; I think it’s important to take a step back from this glorious, materialistic holiday and remember that we’re celebrating the good! It’s a beautiful time of the year full of family and food and love, and that’s what we should all look forward to when December rolls around each year; being nourished and being loved.

    • Hi Jillian! Thank you so much for this reflection. You’re right-there is a lot of good to celebrate. And we all have a lot to be thankful for 🙂 being nourished -in every sense of the word -mind/body/soul, and being loved:) glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  18. I took our Christmas tree down after 9 days because my 3 year-old kept tackling the tree. No manger since he would throw a wise man through a window or the TV. No candles in the house because a rouge play toy might knock them on the carpet. And no lights outside because I would NEVER be able to get my son back in the house. He would look at them all night. So as all can see, I have a few reasons to hide my spirit. In an outward fashion anyway. We’ll display some of our beliefs in time Caralyn! – Larry

  19. Oh, I love this. This time of year is so, so busy and it’s easy to get caught up in that. Sometimes while just walking past our family room, I catch a glimpse of our small wooden nativity scene. I pause to really look at baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men, shepherds, and the little sheep and animals. Helps remind me what this season is all about, and to slow down to enjoy it. Thanks for the beautiful reminder!

  20. You Echo the sentiments of many Christians around the world. I want to try to respond to you in a nice concise manner. First of all this is the greatest Christmas post I have read from you. Even though admittedly I didn’t read the whole thing I understood what you were trying to say. I often wonder that too has Christmas become too commercial? Who celebrates Christmas? How does one begin to celebrate Christmas? Are you a traditionalist? are you a soccer mom trying to find the latest version of Pokemon characters for your kids on maybe you’re a fan of holiday movies. it is great that you know the real reason Christmas exists and for that I give you a virtual high five. kids Christmas music you’re looking for turn to Chym FM. 96.7 adult contemporary music this time of year they play an overabundance of Christmas music. I warn you though that after listening to the station for a week you might share something in common with the Grinch. if it’s cheesy Christmas soft and sentimental stuff that you want to hear or read I recommend you look up a poem entitled Alfie the Christmas tree by John Denver by the way merry Christmas I love ya and so does God.

  21. Winter festivals, pass over celebrations and likewise have existed far before ‘Christmas’ every became cultural norm. Christmas has also been mixed with many pagan traditions like bringing greenery indoors for the winter celebration.

    There is so much about the history of Christmas and Winter Celebrations that many don’t know because they’ve never taken the time to research it! It doesn’t even state in the bible when Jesus’ birthday truly is. If you go back you will see that most believe Saturnalia the Roman tradition was then converted to what we know now as Christmas celebration at the end of December.

    So I think it’s really interesting to see what people truly know about this day and season. I don’t think there is any war on Christmas, I know many people whom are non-christian that celebrate! I of course know and love many christian’s who do.

    God bless <3

    • Hi Holly! Thank you so much for this reflection! How interesting. You’re right, even though December 25 may not technically be the actual birthday of Jesus, I do appreciate having a universal celebration of that special event. How interesting about the greenery — I know the history of the poinsettias, but that’s new to me! thanks for sharing! big hugs to you 🙂 xox

  22. If you think about it the birth of Christ can actually take place within our hearts once we realise our living connection to every soul around us. This is the kind of experience I had today sitting in my local shopping centre having a cup of coffee. Really it should be a celebration of love, of our connection and life. The reason I think so many people suffer at this time is they can feel the deep loss of disconnection, which is so sad and painful. These are just some of my thoughts. Its about so much more than presents thought these can be an expression of love. <3

    • thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. wow so powerful! You’re right, everyday we can celebrate the birth of Jesus! What a beautiful perspective. Yes — it really pains me to think that people feel alone and forgotten this time of year. We should all be on the lookout for ways to express that love 🙂 hugs xox

  23. I I haven’t been to New York ever but the picture I have in my mind of Christmas celebration is that what I get from Home Alone Movie and it was amazing but today as you have brought the message, there is a ?

  24. Thank You for the reminder. We get so busy working, buying and doing that we often forget the “reason for the season”. Reading your post brought Jesus a little closer to me this year in my heart and head. May GOD bless you and Merry Christmas.

  25. Great point. Thank you for writing this.

    Over here in Japan they play all the Christmas songs. One thing my father never liked is how the radio and places only play the “santa” songs. You hardly ever hear “silent night”, but you get tongs of “Jingle Bells” and “Grandma got run over by a reindeer”.

    But over here they play everything (not because they’re Christian). I think they just choose anything that is a Christmas song. They also put up Nativity scenes. They just like anything that is “christmas”. Ironically, over here in Japan that has hardly any Christians, I find better Christmas celebrations than I often do in the West.

    • thank you so much! How interesting! I’ve never been to Japan, but would love to one day! Yeah, I was talking with the little kids I nanny for, and they had never heard Silent Night before! safe to say, I was flabbergasted! Thanks for sharing this perspective! Truly fascinating! big hugs xox

  26. You know say what people around the world seem to feel. However, the challenges seem to over shadow the message and consumer festivities, and maybe that’s no bad. I had to look within to understand that the HOPE which came from Jesus birth is HERE, in my HEART. Beyond measure we are all blessed and no one will take that JOY from us. Thanks for sharing and helping to keep our focus.

    • Hi there! Thank you so much for this encouragement. 🙂 Truly, it means so much! Yes — there is definitely hope during this season — it’s in our hearts and smiles and warmth between friends. And it all stems from Him 🙂 Thanks for reminding me of that Joy!! Joy to the world!!! 🙂 hugs xox

  27. So true dear. However, focus is the key. The miracle in Bethelehem so long ago brings my heart and mind back to the “reason for the season.” I refuse to let anyone water down what the Savior of the world, Emmanuel – God with us did. God bless you as you share on this blog. Oh yes, I love reading the first chapter of Luke over and over again, all 80 verses. It causes my spirit to rejoice.

    • Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. you’re right – we’ve got to remember the miracle that is our Savior’s birth at “100 Proof!” Thanks for stopping by! I’ll definitely join you in reading that chapter of Luke 🙂 hugs to you xox

  28. Love this post. And I love Christmas in New York, although the last time I was there during this time of year was in 2000. I need to go back!

  29. Reblogged this on Seeking the Narrow Gate and commented:
    Sharing this insightful post from another blogger who also is having trouble feeling the Christmas spirit this year. On the plus side, the Christmas season in the Church doesn’t actually start until the Nativity of the Lord on December 25th, so there is a chance that I can get in the proper Christmas spirit after all the nonsense with gifts and terrible pop music and overspending is done and dusted.

  30. Great Post. I have to agree that I feel the same way, this year Jesus has honestly taken a backseat in the busyness of life and Christmas preparations and hasn’t been the focus of a celebration about him and honestly it is just under 2 weeks to Christmas and it really doesn’t feel like it.
    I think you are right, we need to take a break from the busyness of life and stop and remember Jesus and his birth and exactly why we celebrate this holiday.
    Thank you for a great post.

    • Thank you so much C&tC! 🙂 Yeah, I can definitely relate — busyness is the great stealer of time and focus during this beautiful time of year! Yes, I’ll join you in that and try to take a break today and every day to see the truth in the season 🙂 hugs xox

  31. So perfect a conversation for Gaudete Sunday. As Catholics we’re celebrating the Waiting for Jesus’ birth. So in a sense it’s good it doesn’t feel like Christmas time yet. I’ll agree though, there is a lot less joy, a lot less hope.
    Sharing with your friends is a moment of hope. Sharing on your blog is a moment of hope. Like the candles in the Church, a moment lighting the way for the next person, a shared prayer, a lifted burden. Just like your continued story is a moment of hope for others. Telling the story of faith is that important. It’s hard sharing that story, it’s hard sharing the story of your healing. And you do both well.

  32. Reblogged this on Frick Writes: A Mind Body Soul Journey and commented:
    I match be taking a break from my personal blogging but this is a fabulous posting that must be shared and considered by all!

    What are you feeling this Christmas?
    Is Jesus in the picture and forefront of your plans? Or has he become an after thought or worse not even a speck of a thought?
    Sit with that….ponder on it…pray about it!
    Many blessings always my dear readers….family….friends…
    Kelly 🙂

  33. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we have to preach to ourselves in “kid english” to finally grasp what we claim to believe? The meaning of Christmas is hitting me in the face right now as I read an Advent reading plan with my eight month old.

    • Hi friend! oh it is SO funny…I feel like I need a kid-english-talking-to about a lot of different things in my life! haha Oh wow – an advent reading plan — that sounds pretty powerful! way to go! 🙂 big hugs xox

  34. I know the feeling. It always takes me a while to get into the Christmas spirit, because for me December has always been full of work, getting report cards done and the like. Not to mention I’m just terrible at shopping for gifts as it is. Good insights, and good for you that you got to share the true meaning of Christmas.

    • Thanks for this, Pi. Wow, it sounds like December is a particularly busy time!! I’ve found ordering gifts online has been particularly helpful to cut back on the madness! hope that helps 🙂 hugs to you xox

  35. What if keeping “Christ” in Christmas didn’t mean that you had to stick a mini-manger scene to your back car window, wear Jesus bling hats, or walk around singing Adeste Fidelis? To be clear, I have no issues with those options as I love me some Adeste Fidelis, I don’t car if people Jesus bling their hats even if it’s not my personal style, and I am cool with the sticker but my back car window already has a shark eating stick people. What I’m saying is that to me, keeping Christ in Christmas can happen in a countless ways. Help people in need whether it happens at a soup kitchen or in the store when someone drops a bag. Have fun, laugh and invite others to join in. Let people know that they are welcome in your heart, and if that’s a struggle, dig deep and send love and good wishes from afar. It seems to me like you already keep Christ in Christmas and in your life. We are Christian as well, but I don’t think twice about wishing our Jewish friends happy Hanukkah AND merry Christmas. Everyone does it differently, and you are already living it. Christmas is not a time of year. It’s a state of being. You’ve seen my crazy elf posts and the crazy stuff we do, but at the end of the day, it’s about finding the fun and joy in it. You truly do have beauty beyond bones and that is your soul and spirit. Personally I think you are rocking keeping Christ in Christmas. Shine on sweet one! 🙂

    • Hi Leo and Jo! Thank you so much! what a kind note of encouragement. You’re right — I love keeping fun and silliness and traditions in christmas well! (Growing up in the 90’s, my mom used to pretend there was an elf that lived in our woods and would leave us presents! hah — she was on the Elf of the Shelf train long before it was even a “thing!” hehe ) so you’re right, those fun traditions are in no way “bad” or anything. I just need to remember why we’re celebrating in the first place. And i love that – when I was a kid, we had a christian singing group, and every holiday season, we’d go caroling at nursing homes, and one of the songs we would sing was called “Let’s Keep Christmas the Whole Year Through.” I never connected those dots until you just mentioned it now! But you’re right — it is an everyday thing! thanks for stopping by! hugs xox

      • Side note disclaimer – I sing “O Holy Night” in the shower all year long like I am preparing for an audition on The Voice. I looooove the old Christmas songs and the candles and the trees in church and the smell of pine and cinnamon. I love that I know at the end of the Christmas Eve service, they will be singing Joy to the World despite the fact that I’m not really wild about that song. It’s just the tradition of it. So I 100% get where you are coming from. I just wanted you to see the spirit and magic you already bring to the table all the time, and if no one else wants to bust out Christmas in style, maybe rock one of those horrific holiday sweaters in public. Makes me laugh every time, but then sometimes I also feel genuinely bad because I think “Wait – were you kidding with all of us, or did you actually choose that top thinking that it was a normal piece of knitwear?” 😉

      • hahaha oh my gosh that’s hysterical! honestly, that’s one of my favorite songs to sing too….Falllllll on your kneeeeees….oh heeeeeearrrrrr the angel voiiiiiiiiicesssss — SO GOOD!!!! 🙂 Same here. i love it all! yeah my family always goes to midnight mass on christmas eve and i love the candlelight caroling before hand. so beautiful. xoxoxoxo

  36. I loved reading a New Yorker’s inside view of Christmas in the Big City. For some reason I have been watching a lot of videos about the Rockettes, knowing I will never see them in person. New York is a universe away from Vermont.

    I have a different take on Christmas and its meaning. I have come to see that the unique quality of this holiday season is grace. Grace, the free gift of unmerited mercy–it is the essence of what we experience this season! Think of how we pour love into gifts even for the hard-to-love family members. How we naturally turn to share from the overflow of gratitude to those less fortunate.

    I’ve come to sense that a conscious effort to put Christ into our celebrations is not necessary, because after all, as Christians we are feeding on His Word an communing with the Lord daily. And the ‘baby in the manger’ is just a small part of the good news, that the Creator entered His creation to communicate His grace to us, like an artist entering her painting of hungry birds as a bird herself in order to lead them to the birdfeeder in the corner. (She can holler all she wants at the painting but they won’t hear her.)

    As I move through the busyness that is this holiday, I find my heart singing, “Grace, grace, grace to it!” I embrace the trouble of all the work it takes to make this the high celebration of the year, especially for my widowed and permanent-bachelor brothers-in-law, who lack the comforts of a woman in their home. The act speaks so much more deeply than word or even a manger will do: they experience grace in my home at Christmas. When we pray over the meal it is enough–they know the source of our love. We don’t preach.

    So, relax. Put up the manger if you like; keep reading your Bible and listening to the Lord; and throw yourself heartily into the celebration this month. January austerity comes soon enough. But now we rejoice in the grace of the Lord whose name is “God with us”.

    • Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. Oh, grace — what a life changing thing indeed. You’re right – God with us — that’s what we’re celebrating. But it’s a daily thing. Christ is always the baby in the manger, and the man on the cross. His grace abounds. Thanks for stopping by! hugs xox

  37. As an Anglican I really value Advent, because there is focus on the prophecies that build up to the birth of the Messiah AND on preparing our hearts for his return.

    I lived in Manhattan in the mid-80s and I agree, it’s a great Christmas backdrop. Sad that it’s fading, but that only lets people like you shine the more:

    “…children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

    May your Christmas be blessed with the full light of Christ.

    • Hi there friend! thank you so much for this reflection. Yeah, a beautiful backdrop indeed. and gosh, what a kind thing to say. thanks for sharing that powerful verse. gonna write that out and put it on my mirror! 🙂 hugs xox

  38. I think this may be the first time I didn’t read and respond same day! Work went late last night, and my response was difficult to write. You might wait for a quiet time and place before reading it on Patreon. As always, Jeff

  39. I completely agree. I too, was struggling with the focus of Christmas. I bought an advent devotional from Love God Greatly, and it is helping me keep perspective this season. Their devotionals are free, the app is free, but the devotional journal is on Amazon for purchase. I’m going to put up a manner scene this week after reading your post! Also, we’re going to make a Jesse tree. Thanks for the encouragement.

  40. Absolutely love this post! Sadly you’re so right it doesn’t feel like Christmas at all, my roommates and I were just talking about this and how no one seems to be in the holiday spirit. It seems like they’re just overcome by the stress of finding the right present or other meaningless things that come along with Christmas. I love how you ended by saying we need to go back to the manger it’s such a good reminder of where to focus during this season 💛

    • Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, I hope we can all get in that holiday spirit soon! And yesss-let’s get back to the manger:) glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  41. Very insightful. Xmas in NYC is one of those things I have always wanted to do. Still do….
    I wonder if the city being so predominately and openly liberal is still a little in shock from the election, hence the lack of spirit in general?

    • Hi friend! I hope you can get here and experience the city in its full Christmas splendor! 🙂 I think you’re right-the fifth avenue Christmas window displays just aren’t quite the same when on the same block, you’ve got hundreds of trump protestors outside of trump tower. Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  42. Love this! I go through a little internal Christmas battle every single year. This year, God whispered the solution to me one morning when I’d been praying to hear clearly from Him through all the other stuff. Somewhat surprisingly, it was the last three words of John 19:5, which has become my new Christmas meditation this year! 😉

  43. Your blog the way write with such ease, it is truly and inspiration, I feel like you are talking to all of us. And I know what you mean about Christmas, it doesn’t feel like it, not one bit.

  44. Most certainly it is time to return to the Holy Manger! The media and society as a whole has made one of our most important Holy Days into a secular day to earn a buck and the same can be said for Easter (but that’s another can of worms for another day). Meditate and live the words of the Holy Gospel of Luke 2:4-20!

    • Hi Padre Tatro! Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. You’re right — we’ve gotta get back to the reason why we’re celebrating in the first place…and that’s the Christ Child:) I’m on my way to look up those verses right now! So glad you stopped by! Hugs xox

  45. Thank you so much for this post! Just minutes befor reading, I was kind of sad (first year being away from family after we moved) and was thinking the same thing! That it didn’t feel like Christmas. I started looking for traditions to start or more decor to get out but I just need to look back to the reason for the season! Can I repost this? 😊

    • Hi there! Thank you so much for your kind words! Aw, I’m sorry that you were having a moment of missing your family. I think that’s such a great idea-to go back to The Source. There’s something so beautiful about the Holy Family that night, huddled together in the stable with all the animals. It is such a powerful image of what family is. Sending massive hugs to you. And yes! I would be honored if you reposted it! Xox

  46. I got a solution you might like. The portable manger! Made out of tin foil, it is thin as an envelope. You open it and there it is: the ultra light nativity scene that fits in your pocket! How do I upload a picture?

  47. Reblogged this on Mama Knows Mess and commented:
    Right before reading this post, I was having a moment. I was missing my family (this is the first year without them close following our cross country move) and thinking that this year didn’t feel like Christmas. What an awesome perspective and reminder to look back to the reason for the season! Thinking about the family all huddled in the manger celebrating life! So refreshing!

  48. I think you’re absolutely right, Christmas has become more about gifts and money thaN about love and giving. AWESOME post I will definitely be reading more!

  49. Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Jesus came into the world, into Israel, during a time of great darkness. He was born into a nation that was occupied by a brutal foreign regime. The baby King was born into a nation that had grown accustomed to oppression and hopelessness. Times are dark…but as Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is here”…You are right Carolyn…it all goes back to the manger…the incarnation…the hope of the world…Christ with us…Christ in us….and your conversation with your friends…letting the light of the incarnate God shine through you to those who are looking for hope. That is the story of Christmas! Merry Christmas sister! Keep letting His light shine through you!
    ps your gifs are hilarious

    • Thanks so much Tom. What a powerful verse. I appreciate you sharing it with me! You’re right-going back to the manger is where we need to focus this Christmas. Christ in us. I love that:) hope your week is off to a great start! Hugs and love xox

  50. It’s so easy to get caught up in the things and activities surrounding Christmas and miss the Christ of Christmas. Some seasons and years are more like that than others. For me, the act that always brings me back to the reality of Almighty God choosing humility and vulnerability-of the King of the Universe choosing to enter our broken world wrapped only in flesh-is reaching out and helping others. Little things like opening doors, helping an older person with a bag or larger things like donating to food pantries or angel tree kids’ drives. I never pass the red kettle without tossing something in. And I always try to smile, to say an encouraging word, to leave someone more certain of God’s grace than I found them. Light in darkness. That’s the beauty of Christmas.

    • Hi Melanie! Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. You’re so right-we can lose sight of why we’re celebrating amidst all the hustle and bustle. That’s so beautiful. When we help others, we are acting outside ourselves and serving Jesus. And you’re right-even something as small as a smile to a stranger can share His grace and mercy. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  51. I love this! It wasn’t until just the other day when I asked my 3 year old what the main point of Christmas was and she answered–presents and Santa, most assuredly, that I realized my focus has been completely wrong! :0 Love your post for sure.

    • Hi Jessi! Thank you so much for this response. Yeah, I think that would be a pretty typical answer for a 3 year old! But you’re right-the nice thing is that it’s never too late to return to the manger:) Hugs and love xox

  52. I’m living in an area that delights in putting up Christmas lights. So it helps. But still, I know what you are saying. Some years I’m totally grinch/scrooge until I get alone and just look at the tree. Something very special usually happens then.

    You reminded me of a pic I took a year or two ago… Downtown parish. Poor area… whites are the minority. A good place to go to avoid the usual busy bodies.

    Merry Christmas!

  53. Loved your post. Also thanks for checking out my blog. I don’t know if you have much to do with teaching, foster care, or adoption, but if you ever need a guest post on those subjects I would be happy to!
    Merry Christmas!

  54. Great observations. It’s been said that distraction is the worst enemy to our souls, and you put your finger right on that point in this post.

  55. People aren’t feeling Christmas because they are frightened about America’s future. Inside my church, my family, my friends, we have Jesus as a priority, He is always there. This year, He gives us great comfort.

  56. For me, Christmas and Jesus are two quite different things and the difference is amplified as December 25th approaches. I have no idea what Jesus would have thought about the blend of commercialism and arch-piety that has been constructed in his name because it is not my place in the universe to pretend I know what others think or thought. In fact, there are at least two Christmases, as I’ve suggested above: (1) buy it now for tomorrow the price goes back to normal (or perhaps it doesn’t); (2) on this particular day (12/25/xyza), remember that Christ was born and from his birth salvation from sin became a possibility but not a certainty, depending on which shard of Christianity you choose to follow and because only God knows whether your repentance and acceptance were true and complete or not. Both of these Christmases seem quite different than what Christ taught his apostles and disciples. From his rage against the temple machine, it could be construed that he would not be too pleased about the commercial, light-everything-up, who-has-the-best/most-lights, who-is-this-Santa-guy? (the first saint was canonized in 973 AD and was NOT Saint Claus but Saint Udalricus), reindeer?-wtf-are-reindeer? aspects of how we honor his birth. Most of us by now are quite aware that he was not born on 12/25 anyway. Both fundamentally religious and scrupulously scientific sources suggest a birth in August or September and that 12/25 was put forward due to an existing pagan celebration of the winter solstice. How the two were smooshed together into a day when piety comes into question for those who do not say the magic words “Merry Christmas” is really beyond me! And why should I go around assuming that everyone is a Christian by saying “Merry Christmas” when the probability, even in the U.S., is that one out of four (give or take) do not identify themselves as such? Would Christ really want us all to go around assuming something in his name when he lived in an impossibly diverse place and time himself? Doesn’t seem like the fellow that is described in the Bible to me, but I could be completely wrong and I don’t want to pretend I know his thoughts.
    And then there’s the whole thing of celebrating his birth and death as “high holy days” (actually a concept from Judaism) with a whole bunch of nonsense about an obese, sleigh-riding man and rabbits distributing eggs (wouldn’t the egg-laying platypus be a better Easter animal? or is that where chicks come into the picture? so confused…), then letting the rest of the year sort of ride, except on Sundays and perhaps Wednesdays.
    So: (1) say what you want to people but don’t confuse it with what Christ would have wanted you to do; (2) remember that 12/25 is something other than the day of Christ’s birth; (3) do your shopping when you need things and not because Christ would want you to get in on that really good sale, particularly if it meant knocking someone over at WalMart or Macy’s or wherever; (4) there is nothing biblical about the number, color, or type of lights you put up, nor is there about plucking a perfectly good evergreen from the ground and letting it die a slow death in your house; and (5) if you’re a Christian, be one every day and remember that profound humility and care for our fellow creatures is a centerpiece to what we know of his teachings.
    Please pardon the lack of capital “h” in the appropriate places. I’m not sure he wouldn’t mind, but if this is the greatest of my sins I’m probably going to be okay.

    • Hi MSOC, thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection. Such powerful food for thought here. I love that- let’s make sure we’re Christians every day. So true! Have a great day! Hugs and love xox

  57. Thanks so much for bringing us back to where our focus should be – on Jesus. May you really be blessed this Christmas as you get together with friends and family and may you be filled with joy and peace throughout 2017

  58. Wow! Thanks for that. My father was an Amtrak engineer back in the day so we’d take day trips from Baltimore to NYC between Xmas and New Years. Your reflections on your city this time of year brought back memories.

    Our college-age daughter, this morning, was making the observation few to no one knows Christmas carols anymore. Some things are being lost.

    I appreciate your grounding and honesty. May the love of our Father capture you afresh these days and bless you with wonderful encounters with him this new year.

    Grace & peace.

    • Thanks Jeff! Oh wow, what a cool memory. Your dad’s job held the eastern sea board together! I know! I miss he Christmas carolers! My friends and j used to do it in elementary school. Have seen anyone else do it since! Same to you! Hugs and love xox

  59. A great read!! It’s uplifting to know that there are other “young people” out there that still realize the true, unforgettable reason for this widely celebrated time of year. And coming from someone who lives in America’s largest, and sometimes known as materialistic, city, it is awesome to know that you and many others still hold true to Christ. Thanks for pointing out these problems (and the inevitable solution of God) with such attractive eloquence in wording. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and look forward to those coming in the future!! Also, thanks for the like on one of my recent blog posts 🙂

    • Thanks so much Rachel! Wow, what a kind and encouraging note! It really means a lot! Yes! Gotta hold true to what really matters:) have a great day and a beautiful Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  60. You are right about the lack of spirit this year. I wanted to ask you if I could dedicate a poem to you on my blog and link to your. It is about mirrors and our perspective about ourselves. You inspire me. Thank you.

  61. Thanks for this post. I think it’s true; the real meaning of Christmas has been hidden behind materialistic things, rather than its true meaning. I love Christmas. Maybe because I don’t get wrapped up in all of that stuff. I mean I do buy gifts, but for me, it’s about spending time with loved ones. It’s about spending time with my son.
    Have a very merry Christmas!

    • Hi Persia! Thank you so much for this thoughtful reflection. You’re right-I love that aspect of Christmas too. I look forward to that special time with my family all year round. It can be hard to live away from home, but knowing that I’ll get to see everyone, it keeps me going:) haha Hugs and love xox

  62. So, I kind of thought I was the only one who felt not so ‘Christmas-y’ this year; thanks for proving me wrong. 😉 I know for me, part of the reason is because my dad passed away three years ago, so that’s definitely changed how we do Christmas, and this season is always hard knowing he isn’t here and our lives aren’t the same. Thanks for this post, because it definitely helped remind me to focus more on Christ than how I’m feeling lately. 🙂

  63. I had that very thought myself about not feeling the Christmas spirit as much this year, but I have decided not to let that negativity into my soul. I choose to continue to believe in the miracle of Christmas and how Jesus came over 2000 year ago and how He promised to come again. So, we need to prepare for that, we need to shake the dust off and ask the Holy Spirit to infill us afresh with the spirit of joy and giving, because it’s only in the giving that we receive the joy and peace that only Christ can give. God bless you <3

    • Hi there! Thanks so much for this reflection. I think that’s a great idea — taking the high road of sorts:) amen to that. We need to always be living in a way with our eyes on His return. There is definitely joy and peace in Him. Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  64. God bless you for this post it needed to be said. We do forget the very ones that knew of Jesus birth first were shepherds, that would be us. He came to the least for a reason because we (you) will always remember his humble beginnings. Great post. Merrry Christmas Happy birthday Jesus.

    • Thanks Israel! So glad it struck a chord with you. You’re right– we’ve got to remember why he came in the first place:) it all comes back to love. Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

    • I guess that I should follow on with this: every women trying to conceive should pray that the world be filled with children that manifest divine grace. I think that they’d discover really beautiful things going on during their pregnancy.

  65. Every year the day after my anniversary I start growing out my beard so Santa can make appearances at nursing homes, churches, day cares, and libraries. One element of my yearly appearance is a large, rather ornate, cross around my neck. I have had children ask what it was for and it gives me a chance to explain the meaning of Christmas. Telling the Christmas story to the one that asked and ALL the little ears listening. If ever I am told I cannot wear the cross I will tell whomever the cross is the only reason for Christmas. The Christ-child was born to die. Jesus was the perfect and holy lamb of God to be sacrificed by the High Priest to take away the sins of the world. Laying in the manger He was born in the shadow of the cross. Christmas is the season of God GIVING the gift of salvation to the world and it encourages us to gift each other but the materialism that the holiday has turned into disturbs me. A few years ago I wrote the following poem:

    T’Was the Day After Christmas!

    T’Was the Day After Christmas all the wrappings were torn,
    The kids didn’t care that Messiah was born.
    All the batteries were dead and the gifts cast aside,
    No one had told them how the Savior had died.
    Their eyes toward next Christmas when they get more new stuff,
    No matter how much it seems it’s never enough.
    I look at the world and I see the great need,
    Then I look at America and see little but greed.
    We have more; we need more; we want more, we MUST!
    No wonder the world looks on in disgust.
    So, before you grab to get all that you can
    Give away God’s love to help your fellow man.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good life!

    • Wow what a beautiful gift you share with your community. You’re sharing the true meaning of Christmas and that is so important. And what a powerful poem! You’re a talented writer! Glad you stopped by. Hugs and love xox

  66. You are such a talented writer and your posts are very enjoyable to read!
    I liked your entire article but I really liked the following excerpt: “He’s always there, available, just waiting for us to come in and keel beside the manger. But we’ve got to decide to do so.”

    There is so so so much truth in that statement! His availability is contingent only upon the desire and posture of our hearts! Such an amazing thing to consider.

    Christmas to me is a time to not only remember but to accept the ultimate gift God gave to us, His son, Jesus Christ. I have been a Christian for many years but I am continually learning, realizing and accepting the greatness of God’s love for me and for everyone else!

    Wishing you a Very Merry Christ Filled Christmas!!

    • Aw thank you so much Joshua! Wow what a kind note of encouragement! You’re right-we were given such a gift in Jesus. Thanks for stopping by and merry Christmas! Hugs and love xox

  67. I love how you take responsibility for your own empty feelings rather than blaming the rest of society for “taking Christ out of Christmas.” That was good reading.

  68. And here a message from my spiritual teacher Ted Nottingham… 🙂 maybe it will helps you to FEEL christmas…

    „… to enter into this holy time… that has been so significant to humanity for so long… this time of celebrating, remembering, reflecting on the Incarnation. The Incarnation of Spirit in matter… you know the birth of Christ means to christians, to spiritual people, that all humanity is a carrier of the Divine… as we enter into the magic of christmas and into that silent night… and into those childhood memories… into that goodness, that comes from each of us as we truly become part of christmas… what we are experiencing is the knowledge that we are not alone. There is deep wonder, deep beauty, deep mystery to who we are and to why we are here…in Early Christianity the idea of Christs incarnation meant, as one teacher said, God became a human being so that human beings could enter into Gods Reality, could become godlike…“ (Ted Nottingham)

  69. No doubt it’s the Church that’s not doing enough to find a solution to the ‘de-Jesus-ing’ of Christmas.

    My pastor, Rev. Chris Okotie, taught what many don’t see: that it’d have been antithetical to scripture if they had found an inn. The reason being that man lived surrounded by animals in Eden. So His birth must take man back to that environment. Revelation? Yes! The inn is a place of rest and of feeding. They couldn’t get one from mankind because He would give that rest! It’s good to sit under a good pastor!

    Now, if you ask me, Christmas marks the Incarnation. God, unexpectedly, walked into our world to bring to us the most needed salvation. His birth, became a turning point, which culminated in the death (of our sinful nature), burial (of satanic hold) and resurrection (of our dead spirits). Some may accuse me of fanatical bigotry. No sweat. This is what Christmas is all about. Jesus said unless He’s eaten, heaven will be impossible. They left Him thinking He wanted to initiate them into the cult of cannibalism. Did visitors see the Infant of Days in a manger? Is it not because this One, in the manger, the Word of God, the Bread from heaven which if any should eat and drink will never hunger or thirst again forever and ever?! Amen!

    Why did we see the throng of the angelic host after the shepherds (shepherds? of course He is the great Shepherd!) had been informed?. He’d come also to settle the angelic conflict. Christmas is all about Jesus, who is very God of very God. Light up the atmosphere! Roll out the drums! Let’s celebrate the birth of Him with whom we all have to do. Amen.

    Bbb, you’ve proved that to whom much is given much is expected. This is another great post not unlike others. Merry Christmas!

  70. I ‘m glad to see that your Nativity does not contain baby-Jesus yet. No, no, no we cannot put Jesus into his manger until Christmas morn. For years, I have gone about stealing baby-Jesuses out of Nativity sets that co-worker put up. I just hide Jesus until the correct day on which he appears. And, do not have the Wise guys show up until 12th Night! Merry Christmas to the miracle. Merry Christmas to the Lord of Misrule (British tradition). And, may all your animals talk on Christmas eve, merrily, of course. (We have added a zebra and giraffe to our creche)