Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Jim Brickman Holiday Homecoming concert here in Boise. Jim is a fantastic pianist and I was really looking forward to the music of Christmas performed in his unique style. The concert was good, but at one point Jim talked about how hard it is to write a new song about Christmas – he talked about the feelings of the season, the weather, the family, the friends, etc. He said he tried and tried, and all he could come up with is this: he then played and sang a song about the courtship of Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is what Christmas is all about? Santa’s dating habits? Really?
I walked out of that concert feeling empty. Jim missed the whole point.
See, where I grew up, and the way I’m raising my family, Christmas is not about Santa. Sure, he comes and brings presents to my kids, but that is really an afterthought. At our house, we really try to help our children understand the real reason we are celebrating this season.
I frequently hear that “[kindness, love, charity, hope, etc] is the true meaning of Christmas” – but I usually disagree with that as well.
Tonight, I went to see Glenn Beck’s “The Christmas Sweater” live performance. While Glenn is pretty theatrical, and this show was a bit tedious and overdone through the middle section, his Christmas message is wonderfully devoid of the commercial aspects of Christmas, and he does not mince words about the true meaning of Christmas. Instead, he focuses on the spiritual reasons for the season: The birth of our Savior.
As I look around at Christmas decorations, I try to remember all the ways they relate to the birth of Christ: Candy canes represent the shepherd’s crook used by the shepherds that came to find the Christ child, the star at the top of our tree represents the new star mentioned that guided those who came to see Him. The gifts under the tree are symbolic of not only the gifts presented to the babe, but of his gifts to us – specifically, the gift of salvation.
Tonight Glenn gave an emotional reminder to me of the power of the gift of the atonement – it is freely available to all who seek salvation, and has the power to change lives and families forever. We celebrate Christmas because with the birth of our Savior came his life, ministry, atonement, and resurrection. In short, we are celebrating all the gifts that God has given us.
I sincerely hope that at this time of the year we can all take some time to ponder the most important gift any of us has ever and will ever receive, and the true meaning of Christmas: The gift of salvation through the atonement of the Savior.