This is sometimes a difficult thing for me to properly explain, because so many people love to complain about Christmas, and how it's become too commercialized, we don't remember the "reason for the season" etc., etc., and I don't really agree with that.
Because over the years, I've actually come to enjoy the "social" aspect of Christmas as much as the religious aspect. I love the fact that during those last couple weeks of December most people are in a good mood. We find time to socialize with friends, families spend time together, we exchange Christmas cards that help us keep up with old acquaintences and I just find myself really enjoying life a little bit more during that time of the year. Just saying "Merry Christmas" to someone makes me feel good. And I LOVE the simple act of giving gifts. The look of pleasure on a friend or family member's face when you give them something really meaningful is precious.
And then there's the great music. Not just "Joy to the World" or "Silent Night", but I also get cheered up hearing "Silver Bells" or hearing Elvis churn out "Blue Christmas." Some people in my family could hear "White Christmas" a thousand times before they'd get tired of it. It's just a wonderful, happy, fun time of the year.
None of which is to denigrate the religious aspect of the season. Obviously the birth of Jesus Christ is an important celebration, but I find a lot of joy in the secular aspects of Christmas as well, and I don't feel a need to apologize for the "commercialization" of the holiday.
Because to me, Christmas is not the central point of Christianity. Easter is.
Christ's birth is just the starting point of the story, and by itself, it doesn't accomplish much. What makes salvation possible to you, me and everyone is the story of THIS week, when Jesus allowed himself to be put to death as punishment for our sins, and then demonstrated the absolute power of God by rising from the dead. It's the resurrection that brings us to eternal life, not the birth of the baby. Without the cross and the empty tomb, the manger doesn't mean much.
And so, as much as I love to sing "Silent Night," tomorrow morning when we sing "Christ the Lord is risen today," it will mean a lot more to me. Nothing in history - nothing in our own lives - is more significant than the events we celebrate this week. And while families do get together at Easter, just as they do at Christmas, we do it without the tree, the gifts, the socializing and all the other trappings of Christmas, allowing us a little time and solitude to reflect on the incredible sacrifice Christ made for each of us, and what it means for our place in eternity.