Christmas appeals to my five senses.

Think about it.
All you have to do is…
Play a few melodies of Bing Crosby.
Burn a candle that smells like evergreen.
String some multi-colored lights on any object in your yard.
Add a little peppermint to your Starbucks.
Cut some paper and arrange a silk bow on a box.
Bake a gingerbread cookie in the shape of a snowman.
…and suddenly everyone knows it’s Christmas.

Somewhere along the way, Christmas has become a very powerful brand. And I’m just fine buying it. I actually like the idea that everything around me says it’s Christmas. (I’d also agree Christmas has been too commercialized, but that’s another issue for another bah humblog.) For the moment, I would like to simply point out that there is something wonderful about the way this season tastes, looks, sounds, feels, and smells.

I find myself humming songs I would hate any other time of the year, wanting to eat more than I normally would, and gazing with amazement at the creativity of the decorations in my neighbor’s yard. The transformation of my surroundings into a magical winter experience gives me a temporary escape from my normal existence.

With everything else it brings, this season also gives me a sense of optimism and hope. Yes, of course I believe the most important thing about Christmas is the story of the birth of our Savior who came to redeem the world. But I also believe, either on purpose or by accident, that many unexpected elements of our culture have captured the essence of what Christmas is really about.


From Dickens’ classic The Christmas Carol to Schulz’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, the story of Christmas shows up over and over again in thousands of different songs, movies, lights, decorations, presents, and even recipes. For all the negative things you can say about the commercialization of Christmas, I still love most of what our society has done to celebrate this message.

This is THE one time of the year that …

Many who are broken will try to start over
Families who are separated strive to reconnect
Everyone thinks harder about those who are hurting
The entire planet is reminded that God showed up to save the world.

I am not sure who or when it was decided what Christmas would look, sound, taste, feel or smell like. But I know for sure when I wake up and step into the world tomorrow it will be Christmas everywhere I go. And the story of Christmas will be everywhere too.

Christmas forces us to pause for a few days and confront the most compelling epic of restoration and redemption. So instead of becoming a cynic, skeptic, or scrooge because someone has effectively branded the season, invite your family to breathe in the essence of Christmas. Engage all of your senses and experience the magic of the greatest story ever told.