Have you ever noticed how many dichotomies exist around this time of year? Jesus OR Santa . . . Merry Christmas OR Happy Holidays . . . Buy ALL THE GIFTS, or give nothing at all . . . Send Christmas cards to everyone you know, or bypass Christmas cards altogether . . . Deck the halls with Clark Griswold-style abandon, or forgo all decorations . . . Listen to every version of dozens of holiday songs, or adopt a Scrooge-like indifference to Christmas music. . . .
As a naturally black-and-white thinker, this polarization makes sense to me. Choose a team. Pick a side. Adopt your stance and run with it. There’s just one problem: what if I can’t choose? What if BOTH options sound good? Is it possible to make space for two opposing viewpoints? Is there a chance, however slim, of finding a middle-ground within such vastly different approaches to the season?
After all, the first Christmas wasn’t very black and white. Jesus was a king, and yet he was born in the humblest of circumstances. His birth was celebrated by royalty and shepherds. He came as both God and man, to save both Jews and Gentiles. His birth was long-awaited and fulfilled hundreds of prophesies, yet it was completely unexpected and nearly overlooked. Jesus was the epitome of nuance: through the simple act of being born, He shattered a polarized approach to life.
This Holiday season, I’m taking my cue from that very first Christmas and refusing to take sides. I’ll honor the sacredness of the season while engaging in some secular traditions as well. I’ll listen to Christmas music, but maybe not every song. I’ll be content with the single strand of lights outside our house, and we’ll give Christmas gifts that are generous and thoughtful, but not over-the-top. Hopefully, amid all the red and green, I will settle not-so-comfortably into a cozy shade of gray. And if I’m intentional about it, this both/and attitude toward Christmas just might bleed into the rest of the year. I think that’s exactly what Jesus would do.