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One thing that seems to unite the Christian and the average Canadian is having firm opinions about Christmas trees. In particular, whether you should have a real tree or a fake tree. Funnily enough, there does not seem to be a Christian position on this. Christians, like Canadians in general, are on both sides of the issue.

In Canada it seems as if most Canadians celebrate Christmas—with most celebrating Canadian Christmas and a small number remembering biblical Christmas. Canadian Christmas is quite tolerant of bits and pieces of biblical Christmas. In shopping centers, radio stations, and coffee shops it is common to hear classic Christian carols and hymns being played amidt the secular songs.

The problem is that often when I hear Christians talk about Christmas, they often talk as if Canadian Christmas is biblical Christmas. It is not unusual to hear some Christians “critique” Canadian Christmas. Yet they do not do so Christianly, but politically and culturally, blasting consumerism from an “anti-consumerist, Walden Pond” perspective, or recommending therapeutic/spiritual advice about stillness, “me-time,” or “being present.”

Here are five points about being a Christian and celebrating Christmas in Canada.

First, say “No” to being the Grinch and say “Yes” to being generous. 

Canadian Christmas highlights generosity. You do not want to be the curmudgeon, the grump, the grinch, who goes on about how Canadians have lost the true meaning to Christmas and only we Christians understand it. This is a recipe for people rolling their eyes and shutting their ears to anything you might say. On a very basic level, there is nothing bad about Canadian Christmas – be generous, think of the less fortunate, family, gift-giving, friends, snow, big meals, Christmas trees. There is no reason that a Christian cannot join in with this.

Be known as a person who is thankful and gives good gifts, rather than being the grump who complains and gives nothing.

So be generous rather than grumpy. Join in the festivity. Be known as a person who is thankful and gives good gifts, rather than being the grump who complains and gives nothing.

Second, in your heart and mind, strive to clarify the significant difference between biblical Christmas and Canadian Christmas. 

Christian Christmas should be centered on the biblical stories about the birth of Jesus. The Bible does not command Christians to celebrate Christmas, so there can be wide differences in what Christians do to celebrate biblical Christmas. But we can learn from the biblical accounts of feasts and festivals and sabbath keeping and adapt from there.

In that light, Christian Christmas is a holy day/time to humbly remember the humble birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like the sabbath, it is a time of worship first, and after worship, a time to eat and rejoice and be generous. Like the sabbath, it is a time to include family, friends, and others from your church or community in your “feasting” and generosity.

Third, know that Canadian Christmas inevitably brings disappointment. 

Canadian Christmas is sentimental and this worldly. Listen to the music and watch the movies. The bar is set very, very, very high for great romance, great fun, great togetherness, great family times, great times with friends, great gifts, great feelings, great meals.

The reality is almost always less. In fact, often far, far less. This is true even for those blessed with health, wealth, friends and intact families that still speak to each other. Canadian Christmas highlights what you long for but lack and cannot attain. Sentiment and “this world” are not the answer to the true longings of your heart.

Fourth, meditate upon Jesus as the Consolation of all human longings. 

In Luke 2:25-38, when baby Jesus is presented in the Temple he is met by two people. One of them was Simeon. He was waiting for “the Consolation of Israel.” He is led by the Holy Spirit to meet Jesus, and to recognize Him as the promised Messiah. The Messiah is the Consolation of Israel.

As Luke’s Gospel progresses, you see that Jesus is more than just the Consolation of Israel (although He is that), he is The Consolation for all who humbly trust Him as Savior and Lord. In Christian Christmas, you remember Jesus, humbly born in Bethlehem, the Consolation of your sorrows, your yearnings, your shame. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1 :4 NIV).

At Christmas, you remember Him. You remember He is with you. You remember He will be with you to the end, when in Him, all will be well.

Finally, pray for an opportunity to bear witness to Him this Christmas, and in the days afterward.

Merry Christmas!