Beauty at Christmas
Why do we decorate our homes at Christmas? Should we? It’s an easy shot to mock the Puritans for attempting to abolish Christmas festivities: what a bunch of kill-joys! Nevertheless, the impulse for a plain Christmas is honorable: to call our attention to our sinful state, to remind us that this is the day that God Himself deigned to be born among us, to share our joys and sorrows and ultimately to die for us.
But the impulse to celebrate with song, and decorations, and festivity is the truer one, for if we take Christmas seriously we cannot help but be joyful.
Love Himself came down for us, to be the way for us to join in the eternal communion of love in the most holy Trinity. If we are reflective, Christmas is both a solemn time and a joyful time – captured in the joyful solemnity of a serious midnight mass, in the poignant sweetness of real Christmas carols, in gifts exchanged among the people we love.
Why do we decorate our homes? In one sense, it’s all so unnecessary. After all, the stable where our Lord was born wasn’t hung with multicolored lights and tinsel. But wait: Christmas celebrates the Incarnation, the day that grace and truth came down to dwell among us – grace, truth, and beauty. For there never was in all of creation anything so beautiful as the child who lay in the manger on that first Christmas day. The Author of all beauty, born a human child.
Genesis tells us that God made the world, and saw that it was very good. All around us we see the beauty of the Creation, and in it, the mark of the Creator’s hand. We, made in His image, are creators too: small-c creators after the likeness of the big-C Creator, but sharing in that joyful work of imagining beauty and making it real in the physical world.
And one more thing… after Dec. 25th, don’t pack away the ornaments just yet, don’t take down the tree! The twelve days of Christmas run from Christmas Day to Epiphany, December 25 to January 6 – rejoice just a little longer in the beauty of the season and your own share in making it beautiful.
Unto us a child is born – O come let us adore Him. Alleluia!