Level One: Santa Claus
This is the part of Christmas that most everyone enjoys. It is most readily seen, tasted, and smelled of all the levels. It is Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations, the presents. It's the fudge, toffee and divinity, the cookies, cakes and other treats. It's the smell of the evergreen living (dying?) in your living room, cinnamon simmering on the stove or a clove puctured orange. It's the jingling of bells, the Ho ho ho of Saint Nick, and the ever present lull of Christmas carols.
Everyone loves the Santa Claus level. It tells us Christmas is here and brings a different feel to our lives.
Level Two: Silent Night
Many people also appreciate this level. They recognize what it is we are celebrating. It is the story of an angel appearing to Mary and Joseph. It is their journey to Bethlehem and their stay in a stable, because the Inns were full. It is the birth of their most important of all babies. It is the song of the angels to the shepherds on the hill. It is the shepherds joy and desire to see this new born King. It is the brightest star shining through the dark of night guiding the wise men to visit this young child, the Christ, the King of kings.
We teach this level to our children. They love the story. They remember it. It is an important part of Christmas, and one we strive to remember on top of all the excitement of level one.
Level Three: The Adult Christ
This level too often gets left behind. Is not how we celebrate, or even what we are celebrating. This is why we are celebrating. It is the true cause of rejoicing. Without level three there would be no need or purpose for levels one or two.
It is a entire life lived for my benefit; for your benefit. It is a Savior! It is the most selfless of all men, our perfect, loving example. It is a teacher, a leader, a comforter. It is a God.
It is a life given freely. It is patiently born suffering. Suffering for my sins, weaknesses and insecurities, for my pain and mistakes and insufficiencies. Suffering for yours, too! And it is the agonizing physical suffering on the cross, that lead to death.
But what death? A powerless death! A momentary one. A death overcome by life! Real Life. This is not a fairy tale. This is true. Our Savior and Redeemer did this for us! He lives! And he has shown, by his life, the way that we may also live.
Level three is about a Gift. It is not the gifts given under the dictates of level one on Christmas morning. It is not the well known gifts given to the infant Christ child. It is God's gift to us. It is his son, and His gift to us. It is what brings happiness in this life and joy in the world to come.
I pray that I can use this gift every day. That it can be a more central part of my life, and not one of the presents that gets pushed to the back of a little used drawer and forgotten about. Or one that sits on the counter, remembered, but unused.
I hope that you all enjoy all three levels of Christmas, and remember that without the Adult Christ, there is no Silent Night or Santa Claus. May these thoughts warm you through the holidays!