A few mornings ago I woke up to the radio blasting, "Ain't that America." It wasn't hard to remember where I was! I switched to a Christmas station and a song was playing about "gratitude" being the "right attitude" for Christmas. I don't know what the song was called or who sang it.
It's not a bad idea to look for reasons to be thankful around Christmastime. "It's better to give than receive," people always say. It's a good time of year to look around and give thanks for having family, food, and a warm place to be, as well as God's gift to us of His son.
But this is beginning to sound a lot like Thanksgiving Day, which we celebrated not too long ago. In addition to Thanksgiving, there are many qualities, specific to Christmas, which we can focus on. For example, there are the four candles of the Advent wreath: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy (not necessarily in that order.)
The hope of the people as they waited for the Messiah. Our hope that He will come again.
The peace and reconciliation with God that Christ brings.
The love that God displayed toward us when He sent His son.
The joy of the accumulation of all these blessings! There are many reasons to rejoice.
I was in church the other day and someone said, "You seem so happy." I don't know what made her say that! I guess I was happy to be in church. But the point is that it wasn't like I got up in the morning and reached for my "joy" costume or "peace" hat and put it on. I receive these gifts when I focus on the Source. They are the result.
How can I hope for anything if I don't know what God has promised? How can I be filled with peace if I haven't approached God for reconciliation through Christ? How can I model God's love if I don't know what He did for me?
This is why we celebrate Advent. To refresh our memory about these truths. Without this knowledge, Christmas is meaningless.