But what of the images of wise men, shepherds, angels, the star over Bethlehem and, of course, Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus in the manger surrounded by cows and sheep? What has happened to these? Why are they totally absent? There only seem to be snowflakes, Santas, poinsettias, snowmen and Christmas trees.
Over the past few years I began to feel somehow betrayed by this and even harbored suspicions of some sinister conspiracy out there in the commercial world. But I couldn't really blame anyone. Marketing mavens probably felt that the “Winter Holidays” were celebrated by many people who were in fact not Christian at all and didn't care about our Christian images. But whatever the reason, the reality is that for those of us who are Christian and celebrate "the Word made flesh" (John I:14) in the first advent of our God who “emptied himself, taking on the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7), this is a most holy season filled with rich imagery - imagery that has all but disappeared.
I began to think that maybe I could change this, at least for those of us who still wish to proclaim the joyful event of our Lord's birth. So I designed my own custom Christmas wrapping paper, not only with images of the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus but with Scripture texts as well. However, I quickly found out that almost all wrapping paper rolls are manufactured in China (hence the very cheap prices) and if I wanted to have my designs manufactured, the minimum order was 6,500 rolls per design - plus shipping from China! Thankfully I found a place in the USA that would produce smaller quantities for a reasonable price in high quality sheets sent to me in rolls without creases or folds.
The human brain is wired to respond to images. Our children are making memories and those memories can be filled with images of the beautiful and meaningful Christmas story. Yes, Christmas is about Christmas trees, chestnuts and snow-covered lanes; but first and foremost, it is about the Birth of our Savior.
This Christmas, proclaim your faith with each gift you give. Please join me in putting Christ back into Christmas – one gift at a time.