I don’t normally watch Happy Days, an old TV show starring Ron Howard, but I did recently because it was a Christmas episode.
The plot goes like this: Mr. Cunningham wants to have a traditional family-only Christmas. He wants to decorate the tree, pop popcorn, and read The Night Before Christmas. Of course things don’t go as he planned; Fonzie doesn’t have anywhere to go for Christmas (even though he pretends to visit family) and the Cunninghams invite him to stay with them.
So why am I writing a blog post about this episode that aired before I was born? Because it is a Hollywood Christmas.
The big tradition that Mr. Cunningham was looking forward to was reading The Night Before Christmas. My dad reads the story of Christ’s birth.
That’s the difference between a secular Christmas and a Christian Christmas (which is the only Christmas that counts). A secular Christmas doesn’t have much meaning. Of course it’s fun, I mean, there are presents involved. And you get off of school/work. And eat sweets without feeling guilty. And decorate your house. And visit family. But you can do all that without Christmas. Activity is not what make Christmas special.
December 25 is the day we have chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus. His birth is what gives meaning to the day. God loved the world so much that He sent Jesus, who was completely God and completely human, to earth as a little baby. Jesus experienced all the temptations we do and yet He did not sin–not once. And then He was executed and God poured His wrath against us upon Jesus. But He didn’t stay dead. A dead god has no power. After three days, Jesus came back to life–not as a ghost–in His own body. He proved that He is more powerful than death. Through Jesus we can have forgiveness and everlasting life.
That is the meaning of Christmas. That is why the TV show I watched was so sad; they missed the real Christmas.