Christmas, Keeping the Faith

Happy Birthday Jesus!

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.


  1. Neil C says

    Hi there Claire O Claus !! 😉 🙂
    Just thought I would wish y’all mucho joyous times and festivities this Xmas/silly season……. on behalf of this starkly unrepentant, awful atheist, word lovin’, beauty appreciating (or vice versa), viper’s nest of free thinkin’ opinions……… errrm forgot where I was goin’ with this.
    Look it all boils down to, have a happy Christmas Claire !!
    I read your column about a certain well known literary figure and Christian (smiler) who has apparently had a crappy (this) year 😦 !!
    So I’ve had a bit of a pow-wow/round-table thingy with several of the major deities currently available to consumers of religion in Australia, and together we’ve diligently scratched backs and twiddled knobs until we all came together …..oops…. make that cobbled and stitched a plan together to arrive at a negotiated consensus……….that 2014 will be a year of stability in and at the new van Ryn (home is where the heart is) abode. You; Health (capital H) to be much improved, Hubby; to become an even better listener AND provide more massages to his better half, whilst young bright eyes Master van Ryn will gift y’all the clearly magical, parental relief/joys of reliable toileting independence………that the 3rd year of his wonderfully bright little/big life will bring to the table; actually make that the dunny 😉 As a family unit, may wisdom and love varnish you all with another delicate coat of patience.
    So with a zing and a zang and a zippitdy do, I hope we can continue to agree to disagree about various possible agreements and probable non agreements involving equally as many things and thangs as those that what we actually maybe do most definitely agree on. Got That ?!?! …..It’s me Quack !! aahhHH…..ssssh !!
    Cheerio then Claire, from your cyber buddy/unrelenting, still breathin’ beastly heathen critic………………Neily Poo 🙂
    Enjoy the special Birfdee Party. Merry Christmas Christians !! WooHOO !!

    P.s. Hopefully “Folks and Towns” (a radically new political system for Tassie) will be making some waves in 2014, perhaps even starting on the Ex ?? So I hope that you (Mushroomers) will all feel engaged enough to either roundly criticise it; big it up coolly or even react in a wildly ambivalent way 😉
    Have a loving, humble yet successful 2014 !!

    • Haha! Ever the entertainer Neil!
      I don’t think I can match your Christmas well-wishes, so I’ll just say thank you very much. You’re very kind 🙂
      And I do appreciate you pulling some strings for that pow-wow, but God has it in hand!! While it was a tough year, I wouldn’t have it too much different because as I’ve mentioned before, we learn the most through the struggles we face. Claire is a different person today than she was at this point last year, that’s for sure 🙂

      Merry Christmas to you and your family also Neil – I hope it’s a meaningful celebration and a happy time for you.

      I look forward to more Mushroom discussions here in 2014 hey!


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