Christmas is all about poverty. All of the kindness, the gift-giving, the feasting, the joking, the singing, are all about poverty.
In remembrance of the birth of the God who made Himself poor, so that we might thereby be rich, we are humbled and exalted in a thousand different ways. We spend more than we supposedly should, because we are giving inspired by the Poor Babe in the manger. We sing and play together, because we are but children, hoping in a newborn King. We gather together, to offer ourselves for the Child’s sake to all the Child has himself come for, and to together be there for him. We feast, knowing that in this Poor Babe we are rich, and that our riches are in giving, not receiving. We welcome all, to join us in the love and jubilation of Christmas. Children hang their stockings, hoping for a random act of kindness from a great Saint. Parents imitate the great Saint’s good deeds. On Christmas day, we wear our paper crowns and are all royalty; all lowliness is crowned by the Son of God’s birth, and all royalty rightly bows down before the Poor Babe in a manger.
There is truly only one real threat to Christmas, and that is the idea of a rich Christmas: A Christmas of exchange, of socialising, of enjoying each other’s company, but without any lowliness, any poverty; the idea that Christmas is a set of products and mutually beneficial social activities. It is an affordable Christmas, and a profitable time of leisure. But it is not the feast of the God who was born a baby and laid in a manger; it is not the feast of the God of unlimited, unreasonable giving. When it doesn’t welcome, when it doesn’t lavish, when it doesn’t humbly offer each person to the others, when there is no graciousness, it ceases to be Christmas.
I wish it could be Christmas everyday
Honestly, it should be. I suppose we cannot feast everyday, but we can be as humble and generous and poor, and so as rich, every day. We should always imitate the lowliness and love of our God, as revealed in His incarnation and birth to a virgin. Of course, it’s not easy, but nothing radical ever is.
God bless you, and Merry Christmas!
P.S. I’m currently reading Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the first time, and absolutely loving it. This thought came to me while I was reading it. So far, it’s genuinely amazing, and I already can’t recommend it enough.
P.P.S. I forgot to make the point, that therefore Christmas is best understood and celebrated by “the least of these, my brothers”.