(Yeah, I know; pagan beginnings, winter solstice, blah blah blah - My brain is MY space and I think my thoughts.
Haven't YOU ever had to celebrate your birthday on a day other than your birthday? Me, too. So let this argument go.)
This is the day arbitrarily chosen to remind us that He came.
And I like it.
Christmas can be lit up with love and light and study of truth. BONUS! It is wonderful practice for receiving. Not only from others, but a good time to remember that the greatest gift of all was Jesus. It was a double-whammy, actually:
He was a gift from God, the Father, AND a gift from Jesus Himself.
He gave His life AND His love.
He lived AND died to teach us and prepare the way back.
He lived to be our Savior AND our friend.
Wait ... that's more like a octuple-whammy.
Yep. Christmas is a big ol' Stop Sign of "I LOVE YOU" from your Heavenly Family.
We get to practice receiving this love.
That reminds me of something.
My oldest son likes to create "treasure hunts" for his younger siblings and their friends. It has been a favorite activity for him since he was nine.
It rarely goes well.
Either the children would get side-tracked by a toy, or they wouldn't understand the clues.
"I made it as easy as I could!" my oldest would say. "They only have to go to two other places and then LOOK! The X is right there in real life!!!"
He'd also have occasion to hear the kids say "What is the treasure? Show me first and then I'll find it!"
"It doesn't work that way," He'd respond. "You'll love it - I promise!"
But the kids wouldn't trust him.
The worst, though, is when a child would follow the treasure map all the way to the end and then say "That wasn't worth this treasure." or "I don't like this. I want something else."
It would break my son's heart and we'd have a long talk about the duty of the Giver (Love and give and let go) and the responsibility of the receiver (to recognize the love - what ever physical form it takes - with grace and gratitude).
He's 13 and STILL he sets up a treasure hunt for other children anytime boredom starts to creep in. He's getting better at the letting go part.
What I realized, though, is that The Plan of Salvation is more like my boy setting up his treasure hunts. Father knows the treasure at the end: truth and eternal life of Love with Him and the Savior and our Families sealed together by the power of the Holy Priesthood.
He asks us to trust Him: here is the Map, there's something wonderful for you at the end. I'll see you at the X!
How often do we respond like this:
"How long will it take?"
"Give me more hints."
"I don't want to right now, I'm too tired."
"You never give me anything!"
"There's no way it's better than what I'm doing right now."
"I'll do it tomorrow."
"I don't wanna share the map with So & So! They hurt my feelings! They shouldn't get to come!" (yes, I've actually heard this one in real life from children.)
"Why can't you just give me the prize?"
"Why did you make it so hard?"
Even if the kids would know what was at the end (the last of the goldfish crackers, in once instance) they sometimes responded with "It's ok - I'll just get these crackers that are like goldfish."
Or, the real doozy:
*Child looks suspiciously at the Maker of the Map* "How do I know it's not a trick?
It's not a trick, my friends.
I'm grateful that Christmas got me thinking about this. I'm grateful for Christmas for a lot of reasons.
I intend to celebrate.