It is widely held that Christmas is a holiday for children. After all, secular celebrations of Christmas focus on giving toys, the belief (or lack thereof) in Santa Claus, whimsical talking snowmen, candy, and flying reindeer. For Christians, there is an emphasis on Christ Himself as a little child and the simplistic nature of the faith that brings us to His door. Perhaps this is why adults often find themselves more willing to put up with childishness at this time of year—in contrast to all the other seasons. Perhaps Christmas helps them see the eternal childishness in themselves, and they are more willing to give it free reign at Christmastime.
Adults try to soil the innocence of Christmas. They paint Santa as a dirty old man, deface nativity scenes, turn Christmas parties upside-down with drinking games, and, worst of all, replace the giving spirit of the season with a spirit of covetousness. Somewhere in the process of growing up, many of us forget what faith is. We decide we’re too old for it. Without that faith, we can respect nothing. Not even Christmas.
I spent the day babysitting three little boys with massive imaginations. My primary responsibility during the day was to assist in the construction of the world’s most complicated fort. I felt like a grown-up Wendy; an interloper in the world of these wild and wooly little lost boys. My fort-building abilities are limited at best, but I was taller and stronger than my supervisors, so I did a lot of the moving and placing and lifting. To them, this fort was serious business. No Nerf war can be fought without a proper set of defenses. Not if the general has any self-respect. Construction quality was key. To them, this fort was no mere pile of twigs. This was a castle. A barricade. A Helm’s Deep. When I allowed myself to view it as seriously as they did, I found myself working much harder to make everything right.
Christmas is a joyful time. It should always be a joyful time, unsullied by jealously, greediness, and sensuality. Christmas needs respect because of what began it in the first place. A Child. God Himself in the form of an infant, sacrificing a throne in heaven so He could die as one of us. It is childlike faith that will bring us to an acceptance of the salvation this Child offers us. If my three small friends could take something as simple as building a backyard fort so seriously, then surely the adults of the world can bring themselves to take God’s Gift of love very seriously indeed.