Deck the Halls

Written by  Linda Brumley, Seattle, Washington Tuesday, 18 December 2012 13:30

"I have never been able to reconcile myself to the gaities of the Christmas season. They have appeared to me to be so inconsistent with the life and teaching of Jesus."

If Gandhi was referring to the gluttonous materialism that pervades the Christmas season, I understand his concern. If he meant hedonistic partying, he was also right in his judgments. Both of these excesses have contaminated our celebrations of the birth of Christ.

If, however, by referring to "the gaities of the Christmas season," he meant the near obsessive focus and intense labor and exuberance that accompanies pageants and choral presentations and plays re-enacting the nativity, I might have asked him to reconsider. Or if he intended to denounce the festive decorations that sometimes cross the line into the gaudy, embellishing the holiday atmosphere, I might have appealed to him to have a different view.

There is no human effort that could exaggerate the rejoicing due the incarnation of the Messiah. Heaven itself sent angel choruses to announce this holy birth. If Gandhi meant to point out that we are overly generous in our gifting to one another, he may not have understood that we seek to imitate a Giver of inordinate generousity when God's love compelled him to give his one and only Son. (John 3:16)

Oh, yes, the celebration will be and has been abused, misunderstood, and desecrated by commercialism and greed. It seems that centuries of seeking to expose and shame the opportunists who seek their own gain by exploitation of this holiday has done nothing to quell the trend. Plus, not every festive display nor every extravagant gift is worthy of judgment. Perhaps we should delight in the joy of welcoming the Savior rather than decry our errant efforts to commemorate his birth.

Unfortunately, it is a common human tendency to assume our own moral outrage is so divinely informed that we have revealed the very heart of God in our castigations. I don't know how God feels about Christmas. My humble guess is that he evaluates it one heart at a time. Perhaps, like Jesus defending the woman who poured perfume on his head from an alabaster jar (Mark 14:6-9), God might defend each pure hearted tinsel hanger, tree trimmer, or gift giver. Christmas better lends itself to personal examination than to global condemnation.

Linda Brumley is the author of the book My Beggar's Purse and Other Spiritual Thoughts, and a blog of the same name. This article was originally published at

Linda Brumley, along with her husband, Ron, has served in the ministry in San Diego, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. She is currently a women’s ministry leader in the Seattle Church of Christ. Her greatest joy in life is friends and family (four children and ten grandchildren). Because she feels so blessed to have learned from older women in her life, she hopes to offer that same blessing to young women that God enables her to influence for him.


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