I found the true meaning of Christmas

Christmas means so many things to different people.

I think the important thing is to find our own meaning and significance in how we celebrate holidays with our family and friends.

We know the obvious one – Christians celebrating the birth of Jesus. Of course, this date is purely symbolic since Jesus was likely born in June. December 25 has no true connection with Jesus and Christmas is never mentioned in the Bible. It’s a manmade construct like so many aspects of religion.

Then there’s Santa – another symbol of “Christmas magic” when it’s really parents (*cough* moms) who do the hard, invisible work that makes Christmas magical for kids, from that mischievous little Elf on the Shelf to the sparkling gifts under the tree.

It bothers me to give some old white dude credit for the perfect Christmas morning. It also troubles me that our culture promotes lying to kids; ours was so traumatized when she learned we’d been lying to her for years about Santa and her Elf that it made me question every “cute” lie we tell to kids, from the tooth fairy to the Easter bunny. I truly think I would do it differently if I could do it over again.

So if Christmas isn’t an actual birthday and we don’t want to sit on a throne of lies, where does that leave us? What’s the real meaning and magic of Christmas?

I found the answer this year, but it’s been here all along. It’s there in the innocent joy of Buddy the Elf. It’s in the delight derived from surprising kids with the perfect present. It’s in the magic of a first snowfall.

The true meaning of Christmas is to rekindle the childlike spirit in each of us. To fill us with wide-eyed wonder and make our hearts nearly burst with happiness. Christmas is a time to cast off the dry, jaded adult husks we walk around in the rest of the year – a time to find our inner child essence and let it out to play.

I know this is true and has always been true, but I only realized it this year thanks to our teen daughter. I noticed that my favorite moments this Christmas were the times when I saw the child in her come alive again. People always say Christmas isn’t about gifts – and that’s true, but sometimes presents under the tree are one of the things that help us to feel like little excited kids again.

On Christmas morning 2023, Z woke us far earlier than she had predicted. I really thought our teen might sleep in! Instead, just before 7 am I heard her little voice pipe up to our bedroom “Mama, wake up! It’s Christmas!” and it instantly warmed my heart. I later asked E if he noticed how young she sounded, and he smiled and nodded; it was like she became a tiny girl again when faced with all those gifts under the tree.

There were other moments throughout this Christmas season that filled my heart with childlike joy or warmed my spirit when I saw Z return to her childhood ways.

I gifted the family an advanced LEGO set and seeing Z dig in and return to it again and again buoyed my spirits – it made me remember what a little engineer she was as a toddler and young grade-schooler. She always loved building things and she clearly still does!

I truly believe the meaning and magic of Christmas is that it unlocks the child still alive deep within each of us. We don’t have to have kids to love Christmas – we only have to BE kids ourselves. Yes, we still need to adult and go about the necessities of life – but at Christmas, we can put all that aside for a few magical moments and let that little childlike spark inside of us bloom and feel free.

So many of the trappings of Christmas – bright, sparkling lights; colorful toy trains; beautifully wrapped gifts; singing carols – are somehow magically able to rekindle childlike wonder in all of us.

This makes me wonder how we can bring the magic of Christmas to our everyday life by letting our inner child out more. Are there people, places or things that make you feel safe and comfortable to let your inner childlike self come out? For me, it’s spending time with animals, surrounding myself with pretty crystals and enjoying the sweets I loved as a child.

Let’s all spend more time embracing and celebrating the little child within us – not just at Christmas but all year long. I promise to do it if you will, too!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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