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Merry Christmas!

“Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it!”
–Jack Skellington, from Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas

Poor Jack.

If you are unfamiliar with the animated movie, Jack Skellington (the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town), in effort to bring back the thrill of Halloween, stumbles upon Christmas Town and is stunned by the marvels he sees there. He so desperately wants to feel the happiness and thrill that Christmas brings, that he arranges for the kidnapping of Santa Claus and he and the other denizens of Halloween Town set out to make Christmas their own holiday. Jack dons a Santa suit and flies off in a coffin-sleigh (pulled by skeleton reindeer), delivering toys to all of the boys and girls in the world– scary toys, that only Halloween Town people know how to make.

But after his initial return from Christmas Town, he studies everything he can about Christmas, trying to understand just what it is about it that excites him so. He almost understands it, when he says the line quoted above, but even then he doesn’t quite hit the mark. The only one in Halloween Town who seems to understand, is Sally who is in love with Jack. It isn’t until the end of his stint as Santa, that Jack says, “All I ever wanted was to give them something great.” In spite of his best efforts, it is only at this point, that Jack really understands what Christmas is all about.

To me, this point is quite clear. Christmas is about giving. Not just a toy, or a gift-card, or even a knitted sweater (do people still give those as gifts anymore?). Giving of oneself, without regard for any compensation or expectation of acknowledgment– that’s the key.

Think of it: God gave his only son… his only son, so that we all might come closer to Him. He did so without concern for whether or not we accepted and believed in Jesus; He did this out of compassion and love for us, even knowing that we would eventually kill his son. This is the kind of giving I’m talking about.

Christmas is the celebration of God’s love for us, and a time to reflect not only on His love, but the love we should have for our fellow men and women in the world. Even during times of strife, this celebration can bring the fellowship of man together, face-to-face with their enemies. During WWI, soldiers from both sides on the western front, laid down their weapons and shared this moment of peace.

But getting back to Jack’s quote… even some two thousand and some-odd years later, we have no concrete, tangible evidence of the gift given to us from God. Rather, we now must accept what was given based on written accounts and word-of-mouth stories. It is this faith in Him that continues to bind all of us together, and is at the heart of what Jack says. All of the proof we need in God’s love for us is in our belief and faith that He has already shown us the extent of that love and compassion.

So, during this time of year, amidst the hustle and chaos that Christmas shopping and traveling can be, take a few moments to reflect on the real meaning of Christmas, and then share that with your family and loved ones. Heck, even share it with total strangers! Do you really need that up-front parking place? Do you really need to be the next one in the check-out line? How badly do you need to push the fella in front of you in traffic?

Give of yourself to others, and in the spirit of Christmas, know that as you embody the true meaning of the season, you will know His love which knows no bounds.

Merry Christmas.

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