Wrapping paper has been torn off mysterious packages and wadded into a trashbag, glitter from cards and ornaments is in every nook and cranny, the food comatose is kicking in, children are reveling in all the excitement of their new trinkets…Christmas is coming to an end.

Still feel like something just isn’t quite right? Do you feel vaguely like Charlie Brown? …wandering around thinking to yourself,”Good grief! I don’t understand Christmas!”

Maybe you unwrapped everything you wanted. Maybe you got that engagement ring you’ve been waiting for. Maybe you spent countless hours surrounded by friends and family partaking in every familiar Christmas tradition. Maybe you adopted a family and bestowed gifts upon them this year. Maybe you volunteered at a soup kitchen. Maybe you went to a candlelight service. Maybe you told that store clerk “Merry Christmas” instead of the PC “Happy Holidays.” Maybe you gave a nod to “the reason for the season,” so to speak.

But something is still missing and you can’t quite put your finger on it. What could it be?

Christmas is a season of tradition. People gather to partake in traditions that are symbolic of the love family and friends share. Traditions are a wonderful reminder of things past. However, traditions are also a wonderful way to do something out of habit and forget the reason why you do it in the first place.

I once heard a story of a newlywed woman who was passed down an old family recipe for honey glazed baked ham. She read through the recipe and one step in particular caught her eye — “Using a sharp butcher’s knife, remove the bottom 2 inches of the ham and discard” — wondering what the reason for this waste could be, she dialed her mother to ask. Her mom wasn’t really sure what the reasoning was, she just knew that’s the way the recipe read when her mom passed it down. After finishing the conversation, the lady dialed her grandma and asked the same thing. Her grandma gave the same response as her mom, “That’s the way my mom did it.” In one last attempt, the lady dialed her great grandmother and asked her if she knew why it was done this way. “Well of course!” she replied, “My pan was too small to fit the whole thing!”

While that story is worth a chuckle, it is also a good reminder of the danger of getting caught up in tradition without ever really knowing why you are participating. Reason sometimes trumps action.

Christmas is a time of rememberance, thanks and celebration for God’s redeeming gift to us. God sent His only son into this sin torn world to be the ultimate sacrifice that would forever destroy the veil between us and our Creator. Jesus may have been placed in a manger shortly after birth, but He didn’t stay there.

Jesus didn’t come to this world to set an example of a life well lived or to chastise the way we live ours. He came to be the way, the only way, to bridge the gap that our sin created. He came to die. He rose again. One day, He’s coming again.

This Christmas season, let’s not just partake in traditional family dinners, gift openings and church services…let’s really dig deep and remember the reason we do this. Let’s look past the actions and displays and look deeper into the heart and soul of Christmas.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

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