Christmas is here again and anywhere you turn the Christmas songs will be blaring once again. My favorite of course is “’Tis the season to be jolly!”. I love this song because it often describes my feelings at Christmas. Every Christmas my joy index has this time-tested tradition of going through the roof. It did not just start; it has always been so for me and I am guessing I am not alone. All one needs to do is look around at Christmas and you can literally feel the joy in the air. The source of the joy is not always the same for everyone because Christmas is one of those times of the year when America has successfully merged spiritual and material joy. I am not quite sure that the extent of the joy is the same this year, especially if what we have been hearing about the impact of this Covid-19 pandemic is true. This year had been that year when many have fallen sick with the mysterious Covid-19 virus, and at the last count before writing this blog, the number of deaths in the United States due to the pandemic had gone beyond 300,000 people. So, I know that his year’s Christmas will be a mixed-feelings affair for a lot of families because over 300,000 seats will be permanently empty at the dinner table. In addition to this, many who have the grace of still being alive will not have the pleasure of celebrating this “most wonderful time of the year” with their children or parents because of the rampaging pandemic. Despite all this, I know it is still the season to be jolly.
Being jolly, or cheerful, or happy, or joyful, or merry at Christmas does not depend on our circumstances. If we are in the true Christmas Spirit, we can be jolly despite the circumstances surrounding us. What is the true Christmas spirit? It turns out that we do not need to be spiritual to go along with the idea that the Christmas season is a time to be jolly or that it is the most wonderful time of the year. Materially, the season is the most commercially viable time of the year. For some folks, the material joy is a mirage because they are not able to engage in the commercial activities and will therefore not necessarily feel jolly or think that there is anything wonderful about the season. So, when we talk about the Christmas Spirit it is different strokes for different people. For those who love to drink, the Christmas spirit comes in a bottle; for many folks, the Christmas spirit is the number of gifts they get; for the Scrooge, in the Scrooge movie, the Christmas spirit was a ghost; and for those who are well to do, it is about the money they have to spend. The true Spirit of Christmas is not about any these things.
Those who do not know true story of Christmas can only have the joy of Christmas when their circumstances give them cause to. If the circumstances are not favorable for them, these people will come very near the celebration, hear the songs, see the fanfare and yet never completely be in the Christmas Spirit. They will experience the fun and the excitement, but never make the connection between their celebration and the event itself. These folks will be like people at a wedding who celebrate with more energy, laugh louder, and drink more wine than anyone else, and yet they have never met the bride or the groom. They have no real interest in the marriage. Their real and only interest is in the celebration. Take away the party from them and you remove the celebration. On the other hand, there are folks in the wedding who will remain joyful nonetheless even if there is no wedding celebration because the source of their joy is the marriage itself. So when a pandemic like Covid-19 takes away the normal of our Christmas celebrations, what remains is the spiritual.
This is the main difference between those who have the real Christmas spirit and those who don’t. For those with the real Christmas spirit, if you removed their trees, and their lights, and the gifts, and the decorations, with the drinks, the food, and the music, the story will still be true and they will still be jolly. So, it is another season to be jolly, but I also hope it is another opportunity to know the full story of Christmas and its importance for our lives. Let us, amid all the hoopla, not forget about the baby in the manger. Let us not forget that this baby, Jesus, came into the world to redeem us and that He paid the supreme sacrifice for you and I. Let us, in fact, remember that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” If we do remember these in all our merriments (or no merriments because of the circumstances), we will be in the true Christmas Spirit and it will indeed make us want to be jolly. This season I urge you to make efforts to know and love our savior more, and if indeed this puts you in a jollification mood, so be it. Afterall, “’Tis the season to be jolly!”. – Pastor Simbo Odunaiya