It’s August and, yet, there have been an increasing number of advertisements and releases of upcoming Christmas products and features. Whether it’s the new Disney movie “Noelle” or the return of a dedicated Christmas channel, the media seems to be telling us it’s time to start celebrating Christmas. Obviously, I’ve jumped into the Christmas marketing that occurs for months, having recently published my own Christmas novella. Despite the marketing blitz and its attendant annoyances, celebrating Christmas by watching movies, listening to music, or reading books really is a yearlong activity. I sometimes listen to Christmas music in June or July. Why is Christmas so endearing throughout the year?
The celebration of the Savior of mankind easily brings joy and happiness to hearts and minds throughout the world all the year long. There’s another aspect of Christmas, though, that I’d like to discuss today. Why is family so important at Christmas? I know some may point to traditional gatherings as psychologically creating a sense of belonging and acceptance within a family unit, but I would like to posit another idea. Christmas is about Jesus Christ, and central to His plan is the family. Because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, the entire human family, all the sons and daughters of God, can receive salvation and return to Him.
I know that various denominations within Christendom view salvation and eternal life differently, but the idea that those who inherit eternal life inhabit the same place in the Heavens is mostly universal. Take, for instance, Christ’s declaration in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Anyone who follows the Savior looks forward to the day when we shall be together in His hands. I think Christmas, unlike any other time of the year, reminds us of those who are no longer with us, and we look forward to the day when we can be with them again, and this is made possible only because of the Savior.
A common ornament found on Christmas trees throughout the year is the Angel. More specifically, angelic ornaments are often hung “in memoriam” of loved ones we’ve lost. My late wife passed away at Christmastime, so my thoughts turn to her pretty easily during the holidays, but I don’t think it’s any different for people whose loved ones passed away at other times of the year. Christmas is a time when we are grateful for those who gather together, but also for those who are no longer with us. Or are they?
This is the story I tell in A 21st Century Christmas Carol. I believe Christmas is a special time of gathering, for those here on this earth together with those no longer in mortality. What other time of the year would be any more special or important for families to gather on both sides of existence?