As I was cleaning up from the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day festivities at home, I discovered a wrapped Christmas gift given to me earlier in December that I had forgotten to place under the tree. What a nice surprise! It reminded me that Christmas is more than a day, it’s a season. We’ve all heard and sung “The 12 Days of Christmas”, right? While we may not particularly want a partridge in a pear tree or 11 lords a leaping, we wouldn’t mind receiving a pair of slipper socks, three gifts cards or a dozen golf balls after Christmas Day.
The Christmas season begins on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and ends with Epiphany on January 6th, the day commemorating the arrival of the wise men bearing gifts for the Christ child. In some Christian traditions and cultures, Epiphany is the big gift-giving day accompanied by festive gatherings. In our culture, Christmas is mostly over. Stores are moving Christmas merchandise out with clearance sales and already focusing on the Super Bowl and even Valentine’s Day. Christmas lights are going dark and Christmas decorations are coming down. All the celebrating is done.
Even so, I suggest that although Christmas Day has passed and the season is drawing to a close, there is one, big unopened gift remaining for each of us to open: The gift of a new year. God has given each of us the gift of life going into another year. It’s filled with anticipations, expectations and good intentions. It holds possibilities, challenges, surprises and worries. It’s also packed with faith, hope and love, along with joy and grace, and some strength, courage and determination. It’s a gift we get to open every day. It’s a gift to be lived to the glory of God every day. It’s a gift to be shared with others every day. May you and I open, live and share this gift from God every day in the coming year.