One of the reasons that I oppose postmodernism so fiercely is that it teaches man to believe that there is no ultimate metaphysical reality on which to hang his hat. The buck never stops anywhere. There is no "closure."
That is a dangerously false idea, because it separates us from reality and the acknowledgement thereof, which is the way of salvation. In fact, I would argue that there is a sense in which all sin is the denial of reality.
The Incarnation is God's response, in the form of a gift that is undeniably real, to the problem of man's sin. That is not to say that only the physical is real. But, since man is a creature of flesh and blood, a creature of the senses, and since only through Christ's birth, life, and death can the atonement be accomplished, God brings His own Ultimate Reality to us in the form of flesh and blood: A baby. An undeniably real, historical child, born at a particular time, in a particular place, of a particular mother.
I've become much more tolerant of feel-good, contentless Christmas songs and greetings of late years, if only because the forces of Mordor are so determined to wipe them out. There must be something good about parties with Christmas trees decorated in red if the atheists turn into ravening demons at the sight of them and are determined to stamp them out. So I don't want to be a Scrooge about "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas."
But it cannot be denied that "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays" is an echo of an echo of the reality of God made flesh. It's an echo of the love that exists within families and is expressed at Christmas time, and it's a somewhat feeble echo because it's a trite song. It's an echo, secondly, because it doesn't even use the word "Christmas." Even "I'll Be Home For Christmas" gets a few points on that score. Finally, it is an echo of an echo because, if Christmas really is just about being at home with family and friends and having warm, fuzzy feelings, you might as well go out and celebrate Kwanzaa instead, than which nothing more faux can be conceived.
Let me get even more theological for a moment: When we confront God, when we pray, we confront a personal Being who is ultimately real. If our Christmas does not have something real in it, what's it all about? The glory of Christmas is that it is about something real, and we have the privilege of celebrating it that way, celebrating the real baby who was really God, the reality of sins forgiven, the Eucharist.
Our worship at Christmas time is a worship of something more than the Great Fluffy Snow Bunny in the Sky only to the extent that it is focused on what is objective. Our feelings, though in one sense real (even hallucinations are real--they are real hallucinations) are in another sense ephemeral and unreal. A self-referential Christmas that is merely about us and how we feel during this season is a starveling Christmas, an exhausted and exhausting Christmas. It is a Christmas that will sap our energy and give us nothing in return.
It is, I fully concede, difficult to have that focus if you are responsible for someone else's Merry Christmas. I suspect that mothers, especially, have a sense that they can't afford not to put a lot of energy into something as relatively shallow as the "seasonal spirit," festooned as it is with all the nit-picky practicalities that attend it, because it is their job to make sure that that spirit reigns in their homes and is enjoyed by their friends and families. Ideally, though, we would find that the best guarantee of our family's joy in Christmas is our own focus on what it's all about.
This Christmas, let us fall on our knees and adore the Christ who is God Incarnate. Let us marvel at the mystery of God made flesh. Let us drink at the well of living water that never runs dry. And from that contact with what is undeniably Real, let us return to our daily concerns and duties, strengthened for service.
Merry Christmas to my fellow contributors and to all our readers.