FIRST-PERSON: 'Is Christmas done?'
JACKSON, Tenn. (BP) -- Although the Christmas holidays are getting smaller and smaller in our rearview mirror, a Christmastime question asked by my young son continues to linger in my head.
We had gathered with friends for one of the holiday's first Christmas parties on the first Friday in December last year. We enjoyed the tasty food, great conversation, special music of the season and a twist on our Christmas ornament gift exchange that left us all cracking up.
Then, as our family began gathering our things and heading out the door after the party, 3-year-old Miller grabbed my pants leg and asked, "Is Christmas done?"
Music was playing, dishes were clinking in the kitchen, parents were rounding up their kids and holiday chatter was all around, but everything was temporarily drowned out by honest questioning that can come only from a child. I immediately replied, "No son, there's a lot more Christmas to go. Now let's go home so we can take our baths and get ready for tomorrow."
That was how this grown-up dad answered a little child's simple but profound question. As Miller sat buckled in his seat on the ride home and as I thought more about it in the weeks that followed, there was a lot more to his question than I first realized.
Not only did he ask at the party if Christmas was done, he repeated it over and over throughout the holidays. Every morning during December, he'd wake up and ask first thing, "Is Christmas done?" When we'd leave another Christmas party or Christmas concert, he'd ask again, "Is Christmas done?" Part of me wanted Christmas Day to hurry up and arrive so I could finally say, "Yes, Christmas is done!"
Americans like for things to be done. We like microwaves in our kitchen. We want our TV sitcoms to wrap up and be over with nicely and quickly. We live our life in a "get 'er done" kind of way -- enjoying the completion of tasks and regularly checking things off our proverbial to-do lists.
It seems to me that Christmas was never meant to be "done." Sure, the celebration of Christmas comes around once a year but the cause of the celebration is the One who has come to give us hope and peace all year long.
Isaiah said long ago that the virgin would conceive and bear a son, and that He would be called Immanuel. Matthew quoted Isaiah and tells us that Immanuel means "God with us" (Matthew 1:23). Before He ascended to the Father after the resurrection, Jesus promised, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Is Christmas done? Well, if you count the 2016 celebration, yes. We've taken the tree down at our house. The stockings aren't hung by the chimney anymore. All the Christmas goodies on the kitchen counter are gone. The Christmas decorations have been boxed up and hauled back into the attic.
Linus, in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," has reminded us of "what Christmas is all about" for the last 50 years. Knowing what it is all about causes me to realize that the answer to my son's question is "No, Miller, Jesus is always with us. Christmas is never done."