In Wilshire England there is an electrician named Andy Park who is known to many as Mr. Christmas. He claims that he loves Christmas more than anyone and has been true to his word by celebrating it every day for the last 19 years. In 1993 after suffering from bouts of depression, he decided it was up to him to choose to be happy and not let stress rule his life. Remembering how good he felt during the Christmas season, he decided he would celebrate Christmas every day. He unboxed all his decorations, adorned his house, and make it Christmas from that day forward.
Every morning he wakes up and eats 6 to 7 mince tarts. He opens presents he has purchased and wrapped for himself the night before, pretending he hasn’t a clue what is in them. One year he even bought himself a Mercedes! This is one way to make sure you always get the gifts you want! Next, he lovingly looks at the Christmas card he signed especially for him, from him (sometimes 2 or 3 cards)! Of course he hand delivers it to save on postage by walking out the door, putting it through his mail slot, going back inside and picking it up. What a substantial savings that is considering the last total in 2008 was 235,206 cards!
Then it is off to work for about three hours (after all someone has to pay for all of this!) and back home for a complete Christmas dinner. This includes watching the Queen’s Christmas Day address to the nation. (Recorded from the previous year of course!)
All this holiday cheer has cost him a whopping $500,000. He has consumed 6,622 turkeys, 34,276 roasted potatoes, 117,600 Brussels sprouts, over 6660 pints of gravy, over 30.660 stuffing balls, and 94,080 mince pies, in addition to numerous carrots and peas. He has also popped more than 204,400 Christmas cracker favors, worn out 37 electric ovens, and 23 video recorders.
After going over through over 30 Christmas trees, his present one of two years has proven to be his . . .uh. . . favorite. He has decided he wants to marry it! A beautiful ring has even been purchased but he is in a dilemma as to which branch to place it on. Do not wait for a nuptial announcement yet because he is having difficulties finding a minister to marry them! (In this day and age, I find that hard to believe) Oh, one more thing, the ONLY day Andy Park does not celebrate Christmas is . . . Christmas Day! Before we shake our heads too hard at Mr. Christmas, I think we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and make sure we do not share some of his misguided thinking. You have to admit in America today that Christ certainly is not the center of Christmas anymore, even among Christians. More important are we guilty of replacing Him too?
Did you find it ironic that the only day Mr. Park did not celebrate Christmas was Christmas Day? I did! Yet the more I thought about it the more I realized our offense is just the opposite. We claim to celebrate the birth of Jesus on JUST that day but we forget about Him the rest of the year! As born again believers God’s gift of His son is something to be thankful for everyday! Not only the gift of salvation and our deliverance from Hell, but His abiding presence in our lives 24 hours a day. To name just a few, He protects, guides, heals, comforts, nurtures, and gives joy to us non-stop. We also should be rejoicing for the beautiful home in Heaven we already have. The Babe in a manger should be our focus from January 1 to December 31 every year. “ Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4
The most obvious flaw in Mr. Park’s daily festivities is that his focus is on the rituals and details of the holiday, not the One the holiday is supposed to honor. He’s all about the baubles, decorations, sparkle, and glitz. We too easily fall into this worldly trap ourselves. How many times do people get stressed out about getting the tree up and decorated, hanging lights on the house, putting the wreath on the door, making sure treasured family nativities, bowls and candles are in the perfect spot? That’s only beginning. Following fast on the heels of “decking the halls” is the food; the frenzy of baking cookies, breads, candies, and cakes. Frantic plans for the perfect Christmas meal are included with emphasis on old family recipes and traditional favorites. Now don’t get your lights all in a tangle, I am not in any way saying these activities are wrong. I am simply asking what is your spirit and motivation behind them. Is it glorifying and delighting in our precious Savior? Most of the time you would have to say it isn’t. Do you see how we really aren’t that different from Mr. Christmas?
We become as the seed that was sown among the thorns in Mark 4:18-19.
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
Busyness preparing for December 25th consumes us and like the keeper at the in Inn that faithful night so many years ago, and we unknowingly turn Christ away. We tell Him by our actions that we have no room for Him in our hearts or homes during Christmas. Just like Mr. Parker we have missed the Reason of our celebration. Casting aside Jesus who is truly important, we pursue that which is pointless, meaningless, and worthless. Like Martha we are “careful and troubled about many things” and have failed to follow Mary’s example and chosen what is good cannot be taken away. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:41-42
Did you notice who Mr. Christmas’s daily celebration is about? Him! He is incredibly selfish. It is all about what he wants and how he feels, so there really isn’t any room for anyone else. You might be thinking, “Not me! I’m not selfish! Everything I do is for my family!” Is it now? If we are over 25 years old, it is true that we may not be concerned about what gifts we receive, but isn’t it still about us? Aren’t we trying to create emotional, sentimental feelings and attempting to fulfill our expectations of how our holiday should be? Yes, we want to give to your family, and make them happy, but are they not an extension of ourselves? We desire to give material gifts they want, but not the real Gift, the One they really need.
Can we do both, make Christ the center of our holiday and take part in traditional celebration? Yes, I believe we can, but it will take effort and focus on our part. Always the first step we should take in any matter is prayer. Ask the Lord to protect you from being ensnared society’s Christless Christmas. Seek His guidance in how He would have you honor Him. Make it a point to read your Bible daily, alone and with your family. There are many good devotional books and daily Bible readings for Christmas. You might even want to do a word study on “gifts” or “giving”. As you shop, cook and decorate, thank Him for the blessing to be able to do these things financially and physically. Consult Him before you purchase gifts and supplies that He would guide you in spending His money wisely. Make sure you don’t rob Him of His tithe to purchase expensive gifts your family doesn’t really need. That makes no sense to steal from Him to celebrate His birth does it? Listen to Christmas hymns that focus on Him and His glory, not carnal secular holiday tunes. When you find yourself becoming stressed and frazzled at all, you think you must do, be like Mary and take time to sit at His feet and listen to Him. If you let Him, He can help you weed out all those unnecessary things you feel you must do. Make sure you purpose to share Him with others. You can do this with a smile, an act of kindness, patience in stressful moments, a caring word or fulfilling a need. The most important way to share Him is by witnessing to others. Ask Him to send you those who are searching for Him. Is there someone He has laid on your heart to speak to this year and you have put it off? Go to them and share the gift of eternal life that He has given you. I can share a few ways, but don’t stop with mine, ask God how to show you how what would please Him.
After the last tissue paper and bow is thrown away and the tree is taken down, let’s all remember to celebrate Him in word and truth the next 364 days of the year too! Every day is Christ’s day!
Merry Christmas and God Bless Each of You!
Published in the Oklahoma Baptist Newspaper, December 2012