When I was little, my mom had a Christmas record that she’d picked up out of a bargain bin somewhere. It didn’t have a single song on it I’ve ever heard anywhere else, but I loved that record. Every Christmas season of my childhood, I’d play it over and over. I still think of those songs every Christmas, despite the fact that I haven’t heard them for twenty years – “Who’s That Up On the Roof?” and “I Want an Elephant For Christmas” (not to be confused with the one about a hippopotomus), plus many more.

I had one of those songs stuck in my head this morning. It was the one that always seemed out of place among the rest of the cheerful nonsense on that record, because it sounded so sad. It was called, “Where is Christmas?”, and it was about a little girl who was searching everywhere for Christmas but couldn’t find it.

The song was running through my head today because I’m having a hard time finding Christmas this year. I see no reason to add to the chorus of voices bemoaning the commercialization of Christmas, but I’ve got to say I find it all very depressing. Usually I’m able to draw back from that and concentrate, personally, on the miracle and mystery of the incarnation of Jesus. This year I’m really struggling to see what that has to do with this season.

I touched on this a few days ago in my post “Mystery”, but I’m thinking about it more specifically in relation to Christmas today. Even in Christian circles, we’ve made Christmas about a baby and shepherds and fluffy sheep. Our drama team was asked to do a living nativity for a retreat center near us last weekend. We did, and it went well, and we had fun doing it, but it all seemed to be such a familiar, glossed-over story. I even wrote the script, so I tried to make it about worshipping the Savior rather than just looking at a baby. It still fell flat. To me, that is – the people who came through to see it said it was wonderful. Maybe they’re more easily satisfied than I am.

Or maybe I’m expecting too much. When I was a child, Christmas was magical. But then all I had to do was wait for it, and Christmas magically appeared while I was sleeping. It loses a lot of its magic when you’re the one doing the shopping and baking and decorating. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a Christmas letter this year, and I usually throw myself into that with creative frenzy.

The idea behind Christmas is certainly magical – Jesus appeared, and we didn’t have to do any work. All we have to do is accept His gift. I’m just having trouble connecting that to Christmas. I celebrate Christ all year long. Christmas is just when I’m supposed to do it by spending a lot of money.

The song “Where is Christmas?” ended when two magical “Christmas People” came out and told the girl where to find Christmas – it’s in your heart. A very cheesy song lyric. And yet, I suppose it’s the only true answer we’re ever going to have. Christmas is either in your heart, or it’s not.

It is in mine – all year long. But the madness of the Christmas season makes the “Christ”mas in my heart a little harder to find.

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