Too Early for Christmas Joy ?

I’ve heard the complaints.

November is for Thanksgiving. December is for Christmas.

Eat the turkey before you set up the tree.

And I’ve seen the memes on social media.

Two shoppers: “The mall’s all decorated for Christmas. You know what that means.” “Thanksgiving is coming.”

Turkey to Santa: “Wait your turn, Fat Boy!”

Fairy Godmother to Cinderella: “And when the clock strikes midnight, Halloween will end. Then BAM! Christmas carols everywhere.”

But as a wise person once said:

“The calendar says Thanksgiving comes before Christmas. But in the life of a Christian, Christmas always comes before Thanksgiving!”

Joy means different things to different people. For some, joy is fleeting—dependent on changeable circumstances…or the calendar.

For the Christian, joy is rooted in a relationship with the three-in-one God who created the universe. The One who never changes. It’s a response to:

The Father…who is our joy and delight (Psalm 43:4).

The Son…who tells us to remain in Him so that His joy remains in us (John 15:11).

The Holy Spirit…whose fruit is joy (Galatians 5:22).

When we understand the grace of God, we live minute by minute in the awareness that through His Son, Jesus, God redeemed us out of the slave market of sin. He reached down to pull us out of the mire of a life enslaved to our own sinful nature. He freed us from the futility of trying harder even as we continually fail to attain the holiness He requires.

The past 11 months have been a reminder of this truth for me and my hubby. It started with a diagnosis that often results in death. After months of treatment, we received a declaration that he is cancer-free. And finally, a prognosis recommending caution for the next several years.

Some might say it’s too early to be joyful. After all, we have several years of scans in front of us to watch for the cancer’s possible reappearance. But that’s like saying Christmas joy should be relegated to a particular month or season.

Christmas joy

Joy—Christian joy—rejoices in the present moment as we swim in the ocean of God’s grace.

It remembers that all we have has been given to us by a Father who delights in the children redeemed by His Son—the One whose birth we celebrate every Dec. 25th.

True joy trusts that even though circumstances may appear unhappy, we have a heavenly Father who is always at work for our ultimate good.

If we truly understood the grace of God, we would never relegate Christmas joy to a single month. So yes, the calendar may say it’s still November, but to quote the apostle Paul from Philippians 4:4 (NIV):

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

So, today, I will rejoice by putting up my Christmas tree. It will join the nativity scene set up a few weeks ago.

And while I’m doing that, I’ll be wishing you a joyful Thanksgiving!

 


Too Early for Christmas?

Ahhh…the beginning of a new month. This is usually the time when I’m asking if anyone knows where the previous month went…and wondering how we can get it back.

Not this month. And that’s because Christmas is in 52 days!

Yes, I know, most people don’t want to hear about Christmas yet. After all, Halloween just passed and November should be devoted to Thanksgiving. Can’t Christmas just wait its turn?Never too early for ChristmasReminders of Christmas have proliferated for weeks. Retailers display yuletide merchandise earlier and earlier every year. Hallmark has even institutionalized “Christmas in July” with an annual celebration of holiday movies—then and now.

Of course, the commercialism of Christmas is nothing new. A quote from the 1947 movie version of Miracle on 34th Street describes our frustration rather accurately:

“Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same—don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.”

Still, not all these early manifestations of Christmas are commercialized. Some result from the necessity of advanced planning. Our church distributed Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes in October for filling and return by October 30. Too early for Christmas? Not if we want those boxes delivered around the world in time to celebrate the birth of Jesus!

Or how about the many Christmas concerts scheduled for December? Rehearsals have already begun, and I’m looking forward to attending several local productions.

Of course, I’m already enjoying the Hallmark holiday movie schedule that began this past weekend. Too early? Not for me.

Is Thanksgiving getting lost in the holiday shuffle? I don’t think so. An attitude of gratitude can be prevalent every day. If anything, the joy of Christmas is the foundation of all our Thanksgiving celebrations. There’s nothing more important to be thankful for than the gift of salvation…brought to us by Jesus, the One whose birth we will soon celebrate.

Thanksgiving and Christmas are not mutually exclusive. Which is why I joyfully say:

Too early for Christmas? Never!