Merry Ironic Christmas · 24 December 2011

We Christians have complained for years about the commercialization of Christmas. And then, when all of the merchants started saying “Happy holidays,” we complained that the reason for the season has been even more forgotten. Alas, the lament of one travesty has brought on another. It is ironic. Then again, Christmas itself is ironic.

Christians bemoaning the commercialization of one of our most Holy days was surely not the only culprit of “holiday” greetings. Being Politically Correct (PC) has played its part as well. While I will not debate the agenda of people wanting everybody to be PC, I will say that in the drive to include everybody, being PC has done the opposite and included nobody. “Happy Holidays” does not mean anything to anybody. It does not wish people anything more than, “Have a nice day.” At least in my mind.

(Personally, I do not like people being PC because the practice has perverted the English language. But that is a completely different discussion.)

While being PC and other forces may have brought diluted the season’s greetings, the true spirit of Christmas lives on. People want to give to everybody, not just their own families. Our school adopted a Christmas family and staff members donated food, clothing, other necessities, and even money to the cause. It is a tradition begun long ago and continues even though being PC has driven the word “Christmas” out of public education and out of much of the public eye. Still, people give. Even to those they do not really know.

While Christmas giving in public schools and even in the public in general seems a bit absurd given that Christmas is supposedly not observed anymore, Christmas giving in the church seems more normal. Still, some people take giving to the extreme.

A couple weeks ago a young man spoke to our congregation and told us his story of Christmas giving. He said he told his parents that he did not want any gifts this year but wanted his parents to give him cash instead. That sounds normal for a teenager, but the upshot of the whole deal was that he would use the money to buy gifts to give to the local toy drive at the food bank. As he told his story, his mother was not the only one in the congregation with tears in her eyes. People were touched because they saw giving on a different level than they were used to seeing. Even from church members.

That same feeling was similar to the most wonderful feeling that any of us ever feels on Christmas morning. Every kid probably remembers giving his or her mom something special. Watching her anxiously open the gift (always excruciatingly slowly). Then, seeing her eyes light up as the secret was revealed. We remember hearing her say, “How did you know?” or “This is so precious.” And we remember the hugs and kisses. That special moment happens when we figure out that it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

I know the secret to that feeling. It is simple and yet complex. It is what makes Christmas an ironic holiday. We feel special when we give the perfect gift because we feel close to God who gave His perfect gift to us. But unlike our moms who deserve any and every gift we might give them, we do not deserve His wonderful gift. That is the irony of Christmas that makes life so complex. If we choose to receive the free gift of God that He provided through the humble birth of His son, we can feel Christmas every day. It is too simple to be real. And too complex to completely understand.

The irony of Christmas is the secret to the joy of giving. We feel good when we give because we feel the love of God coming through us.

The Perfect Gift was given long ago by the God who loves us all. And while I am not sure He wants us all to spend, spend, spend at Christmas, I am sure He smiles when we give from our hearts. Especially to those we do not know or those who do not expect it. I understand the secret and the irony of Christmas. I hope you do too. Merry Ironic Christmas.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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