There will be a birthday party in our house on Christmas morning. As soon as our two-year-old son’s sweet little head hits the pillow tomorrow night, hubby and I will be in mission mode; hanging balloons, icing the cake, wrapping presents, setting the table with party hats and whistles.
I can predict his response.
He will march from his bedroom – he always wakes up perky – and his eyes will double in size as he takes in the living room transformation. He will laugh and clap his hands and sing, “I excited, I excited” while performing his little ‘I-have-more-energy-than-I-know-what-to-do-with’ dance.
And all the effort will be worth it.
Perhaps you’re thinking we’re one of those unfortunates with a birthday in the family that falls on Christmas Day. Well, we’re not. We’ve decided to celebrate Jesus’ birthday this year with the same dynamism and anticipation as we do our own birthdays. He IS part of our family after all.
I have delighted in establishing our own family traditions. There have been long discussions into the night, after the lights are out and we’re snuggled in bed, about how to teach our little one the most important lessons of life. Surely this deliberation is what causes parents the most stress!
When it came to Christmas, we wanted to be truthful without stripping the fun and awe from the season. Santa is not the hero of Christmas Day in the van Ryn household, Jesus is. The man in the red suit is more of a D-list celebrity in our festive hierarchy. We give gifts to remember the greatest gift ever given when God sent his son to earth as a vulnerable baby to live, breath, grow and die, all so we humble human sorts could enjoy real and personal relationship with our Maker. That gift will always eclipse our own generosity at Christmas time.
We tell and retell the Christmas story from the Bible to capture the awe of Jesus’ birth and what it meant for everyone thereafter.
“For to us a child is born, a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
The birth of a baby brings so much joy and excitement. It’s that wonderful moment when life unseen is given face and body and expression. We can hold him or her, show them off, nurture, protect and teach them. Conception began this process, but birth made that initial faith in the natural gestational process a tangible baby with a name and a place in our world.
A newborn baby is drenched in potential. It’s no wonder we celebrate the birth of a baby – and that child’s subsequent birthdays – with such fervor. It’s an observation of life, love and potential. Jesus’ birthday somehow flips that, so that we can take the life (eternal), love and potential for ourselves, investing them into our own lives. Or, as C.S. Lewis put it, “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
So, “Happy Birthday Jesus!” – hope you enjoy the party at our place as much as we are grateful for the price you paid; your birth, breath and death, so that we know the love of a Heavenly Father that extends beyond the here and now.
Merry Christmas everyone!
First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday December 23, 2013.