You probably don’t know this about me, but I can recite the poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Well, almost. I never sat down to try and memorize it, but one of the books I had growing up had this poem in it, and who knows how many times I read it! So even now, if for some reason part of that poem pops into my head, I can without effort go through the whole thing – almost. The place I get stuck is probably different each time, but no bother – it’s just a fun, imaginative poem. Not knowing it is not consequential.
I can also recite the Christmas story found in Luke chapter two. Just the other day my children were watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” when all of the sudden, my ears perked up. One of the characters was reciting the Christmas story! “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord…” you can finish it in your head at this point. Or at least almost.
It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt,” referring to relationships that are allowed to grow stale. When it comes to those of us who have grown up hearing the Christmas story each and every year, perhaps we could say that “familiarity breeds indifference.” Indifference is the almost that gets us to miss out on the fullest joy of Christmas.
Oh we know that Christmas isn’t about presents & pageants, or eggnog & cookies. We know it’s about God the Father sending the Son to earth. We even know the reason Jesus came was so that He could die. But if these dry facts constituted all Christmas were about, then our atheist detractors would be right in saying that God is a dastardly cosmic child-abuser. Familiarity with indifference does not mean that we “forget” the truth of Christmas, but maybe that we “fail to actively remember.”
Perhaps our almost dilutes our Christmas joy because we look for joy in family and festivities rather than in the Father. Maybe our almost robs us of our Christmas peace because we have allowed situations and circumstances to cloud our view of the Savior. Whatever your almost is, find it, fix it, and revel once again in the greatest gift ever given: a gift not wrapped in paper, but in flesh; not shining reflections from a bow, but radiating the eternal glory of God. And remember, that gift is for you!
John 1:14, 16 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”