Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Walter Albritton
December 21, 2008


Why Christmas is so much more than a “Happy Holiday 


Like many people I cherish Christmas. For me it has always been a special time of the year. So I have found it strange that some people want to change Christmas to a “Happy Holiday.” I object.

At the same time I respect the right of others to pay no attention to Christmas. In a free society freedom of religion is a sacred right that must not be denied anyone. Christmas, after all, is a religious holiday. December 25 is a day that our nation recognizes as the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas rightly observed is the celebration of his birth. There are, however, other reasons to cherish Christmas. Let me share a few of mine.

Anticipation is one beautiful reason. Beginning with Thanksgiving we begin to eagerly await Christmas. We count down the days; there are four more days until Christmas! Most of us do so joyfully. We have learned from past experience that it is usually a wonderful time of the year. As the 25th day of December nears, we are all much like children -- eager for the day to come! Who would want to live without the thrill of anticipation? How wonderful it is that we can get excited about something we may enjoy!

The songs of Christmas make it so very special. We never sing "Silent Night" or "Joy to the World" in April or May, but we would not want to go through December without experiencing the warm glow that comes from singing these precious songs with others who love them. To hear someone sing “O Holy Night” makes me want to get on my knees then stand up and shout Hallelujah!

Even the secular songs are a delight. Who does not enjoy singing "Jingle Bells" or "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" or "Frosty the Snowman" during this season? The music of Christmas usually puts a spring in our step and a smile on our lips. Unless you are half dead you can enjoy a chuckle when you hear someone singing about “Mama kissing Santa Claus.” I am one Santa who still enjoys kissing Mama.

Colorful decorations make Christmas special. The lovely way we decorate our homes, businesses, and the community itself makes Christmas special. At no other time of the year do we hang lights and wreaths everywhere, or go to such an extent to add bright colors to the bleakness of life. Beautiful red and green ribbons, and clothes, cheer us up as we delight in dressing up ourselves and our homes.

There is nothing wrong with a little fun during this “holy” season. At a luncheon the other day my friend John Nichols walked in wearing a large, pointed hat with blinking red and green lights. We enjoyed seeing John lit up not with liquor but with lights. It was John’s way of saying, “Hey, it’s Christmas and I am thankful that Jesus taught me how to laugh and enjoy life.”

Delicious foods make Christmas special. Our kitchens come alive with the sweet aroma of Christmas foods. Mama bakes delicious cakes and pies. We toast some pecans and sometimes bake a turkey. Just thinking about turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce makes my mouth water! Christmas Day, God willing, we will sit down with our family and enjoy a great meal together. That will make Christmas very special because we don’t get together lately as much as we once did.

Snow makes Christmas special. I prefer the kind that comes out of a can or the snow seen on television when we watch children laughing and playing on three feet of snow in upper New York State. But sometimes it snows in Alabama, and we laugh to see how one inch of snow can paralyze the traffic in our area. If it snows this year, you can be sure we will all rush out to take pictures of the children throwing snowballs or building snowmen.

Trees loaded with tinsel, lights, and angels make Christmas fun for us. Chop down a tree and drag it into the house in July and your family would sign you up for the funny farm. But in December you are a killjoy if you balk at putting up a tree. We tired of paying $75 for a tree so we bought an artificial tree. It has served us well for five or six years. And it requires no water!

Christmas morning would not be the same without a tree, with gifts underneath it, and little children eager to find out what Santa brought them. Does that mean the focus is on Santa instead of Jesus? No, we can include Santa without giving up our faith in Jesus. I think Jesus likes to see us exchange gifts and share our love for one another.

Of course Jesus is the primary reason why Christmas is special. In a very real way it is a spiritual experience, sort of an imaginary journey to Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of the Savior named Jesus. Amidst all the wrapping paper, the tinsel, the music, the smell of food, and the tension of the season, Christmas is a time for remembering that it is more important for Jesus to come into our hearts than it is for Santa to come down the chimney.

People are free to say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” It is a free country. But Christmas is so special to me that I plan to keep on saying with a smile, “Merry Christmas!” And dear reader, despite all your heartaches and disappointments, may this Christmas be very special to you.  Merry Christmas! + + +