Tony Rossi, Director of Communications, The Christophers
In Defense of Early Christmas Decorations
Department stores have started putting up Christmas decorations and the Hallmark Channel is running
Christmas movies 24/7 through the end of the year. While the general response to scenes like this is
a smile, there are some people who resent the early Yuletide imagery and even get a little angry.
“It’s too early!” they say. “It’s not even Thanksgiving yet. And what about Advent?”
Not me, though. I say, “Bring on the Christmas decorations” early because they represent something
more telling than people realize. There’s no doubt that Christmas has become commercialized and
department stores, coffee shops, and TV shows hope the red and green twinkly lights inspire you to add some fresh green cash to their registers and bottom lines. But if we look deeper, we’ll find there’s more to the appeal of festive decorations than spending money.
Take a look around. There’s anger, divisiveness, and violence. Couple that with the struggles that people are enduring in their personal lives – be they medical, financial, mental, spiritual, etc. – and that points to a lot of troubled souls. As the theme song to “Cheers” says, “Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.”
Well, Christmas offers that break, and the “early adopters” represent that hunger for joy and peace and community. We want to feel good about life and the world, and Christmas decorations do that for us because, in my opinion, they appeal to the God-shaped hole in all of us.
If you look at the Old Testament, there are numerous verses about the power of God’s light: “The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness” (Psalm 18:28). “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). And Hanukkah, of course, is known as the Jewish festival of lights. In the New Testament, a bright star presaged Jesus’s birth (Matthew 2:2). When the angels told the shepherds of the Messiah’s coming, “the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9). And Jesus eventually declares Himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12). In both Jewish and Christian tradition, light symbolizes God, while darkness signifies a separation from Him – or at least an inability to perceive Him.
So when we’re drawn to Christmas lights, we’re actually being drawn to the light of God, the One who promises us peace beyond all understanding, joy that will comfort our troubled hearts, and wisdom that will guide our paths. And anything that reminds us of that light – holly, ivy, ornaments, Christmas movies and music – awakens those feelings within us as well to varying degrees.
So how should Christians bothered by early Christmas decorations respond? Acknowledge the hunger for joy and peace that Christmas represents, and share how Jesus can help you find those things. Consider the struggles that person might be facing in life and how Christmas offers them a break from their anxiety. By no means should you give short-shrift to Thanksgiving. Gratitude is a hallmark of a meaningful life. And point out that as great as Christmas is on a secular level, getting closer to God during Advent can make it an even better, richer experience that could teach you how to keep a little of that Christmas spirit in your heart all year long.
So while it’s only mid-November, feel free to break out the hot cocoa and enjoy the holiday sights and sounds around you. To quote Johnny Mathis, “We need a little Christmas right this very minute.”
For free copies of the Christopher News Note EMBRACING THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org