Where's the Line to Hate the Christmas Schmaltz?

On my way home from Bible study and Trader Joe's yesterday (both a spiritual experience, let me assure you), I heard the semi-new song "Where's the Line for Jesus?" on our local Christian radio station.

I made it through approximately 1.5 verses before I rolled my eyes so far back in my head, I saw my spinal cord.

Seriously people. What is it with the Christmas schmaltz? Maybe I'm turning into a curmudgeon, but I have no tolerance for it anymore. (Hey you, kids wearing pajama pants at the bus stop: Put on some real clothes! It's 5 degrees outside! And get off my lawn!)

I understand Christmas is largely an American, secularized holiday at this point. It's 85% Santa, shopping and sweets and 5% snow and lights and 10% the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. I truly believe you could remove the Gospel narrative from most Christmas celebrations and the majority wouldn't blink -- or even know something had changed. This realization helped me a lot last year when I realized some of my bad attitude about the holidays stemmed from too much blending of the two Christmases in my soul.

But I don't understand the need to make Christmas -- either of them -- a cesspool of sentimentality.

This year, I'm doing my best to enjoy cultural Christmas without losing focus on the original reason for the holiday. We have enough snow to guarantee a white Christmas. The kids and I are baking and decorating holiday cookies. We have a gorgeous tree taking up half the living room. And I'm almost done buying presents to tuck under it.

But I'm also reminding myself every day that advent, the coming, implies waiting. And not just waiting for presents. Waiting for hope deferred. Waiting for the wardrobe doors to reveal Narnia. Waiting for the Promise to come.

It's the farthest thing from contrived sentimentality you can imagine. It's real. It's true.

God's Christmas is so much deeper. It's an audacious rescue, a passionate love story. It recognizes the darkness, the sinking hopelessness that would swallow us all whole if not for the birth of this tiny babe.

Personally, I don't want to go to the mall and stand in line to see my God. Santa can have that gig.

I would rather leave the masses at the cathedrals to materialism and go instead to the humble stable and there



  1. "But I don't understand the need to make Christmas -- either of them -- a cesspool of sentimentality."
    Amen, Sister, Amen!

  2. I absolutely love this post! Thanks, I needed the reminder!

  3. These were my thoughts this year....since my son will only be 2 in Jan I decided that as from now I will start showing him how Christmas is not about presents but about Jesus. The presents are an extra bonus :) and I am not extravagant with those and Santa gives the least interesting maybe

  4. AMEN!!
    I am soooo with you on this.
    Come to think of it, I'm pretty much with you everything you say. :-)
    Love you, friend.

  5. For real.

    I feel the need to now confess that I loathe and detest the song, "The Christmas Shoes". Want to jump off the roof every time I hear it.

    There. I said it.

  6. Yes, Lisa, YES! No more Christmas Shoes! Blech!

    We pulled the plug on Santa this year. There will still be filled stockings Christmas morning, but they know where it comes from. In my husband's words, Santa went from a kind, jolly old man, to the rich uncle who gets you whatever you want no matter how outrageous or expensive. The kids didn't understand the need for Toys for Tots - doesn't Santa have it covered?

    So we're trying to pull the attention back to Jesus and the extra opportunities to give and be generous. Evidence it was time? Ella's (age 7) response was, "I want you guys to always tell us the truth." Santa will still be present, but hopefully we have Jesus back on the pedestal of Christmas.

  7. Perfect! You said it beautifully. The idea I should be sad that there isn't a line to see Jesus trivializes...Jesus. It makes him into just another holiday character.

    I'm not going to find him at the mall because I shouldn't be looking for him there in the first place.

  8. Ok I know I'm behind on my blogs but how did I miss this? I totally agree. I do not understand the "cesspool of sentimentality"--LOVE that phrase!! I hate all the sentimental crap--on both sides of Christmas celebrations.
    It's strange being back in America. One nice thing about living overseas was that Christmas was only what we made it.
    Also, in response to that annoying song you mentioned, did that annoying child not know that Jesus did actually draw crowds?

  9. I agree. Dec 25th is a cultural holiday, to be enjoyed as such. It has nothing to do with how I worship Jesus in my heart.