The Search for a Meaningful Christmas: Moving Beyond Guilt and Sentiment by Ed Cyzewski

This morning’s post comes from Ed Cyzewski It is the third post in a series he is running on his own blog In:A:Mirror:Dimly Ed Cyzewski (MDiv Biblical Theological Seminary) works as a freelance writer in Eastern Connecticut. He is the author ofCoffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life, an introduction to contextual theology as well as the Coffeehouse Theology Bible Study Guide and a Coffeehouse Theology DiscussionGuide.


While on a critical mission to purchase celery for our stuffing, I walked into Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day, saw a large Christmas tree, and thought to myself, “Ah, that’s really nice.”

Wait, what did I just say?

Wal-Mart is usually my least favorite place in the world. I only brave it for cheap bread flour and contact solution. And yet, when I should be drinking cheap wine or expensive coffee with my loved ones, I was sort of enjoying Wal-Mart.

Much like the sweeping sentiment that took hold of me like a rip current, the Christmas season can latch onto us and drag us into mindsets, schedules, and emotions that can leave us lost, bewildered, and exhausted. Many years I’ll wake up on Christmas Day and wonder how it arrived so fast.

And then the guilt drags me down. Why didn’t I make the birth of Jesus more significant? Why did I let myself get swept into commercialism? Why did I put off my shopping? Why didn’t I pray more? Why did I feel more emotion while singing Christmas songs than thinking of the birth of Jesus?

Guilt and regret multiply like fruitcakes.

Now that Advent is in full swing, I want to look at some ways we can have a meaningful Christmas without losing ourselves in guilt or mushy sentimental goop. I’ll be honest, as I ask some hard questions, it may feel like I’m out to ruin Christmas.

However, I think that once we have a better idea of this holiday’s true nature, we’ll be in a better position to enjoy it for what it is, rather than letting sentiment, unrealistic expectations, and cultural baggage determine its meaning for us. In addition, I wonder if we sometimes try to force meaningful experiences or major spiritual epiphanies on ourselves during holidays like Christmas.

The Next Post: Before we can answer those questions, we’ll need to begin by asking whether we should bother celebrating Christmas. Is it a holiday that should be meaningful for us? That should be a fun post…

5 Responses

  1. Great thoughts on weather we try and make something happen for us during Christmas. Also, I vowed off WalMart, but had to go the other day in TJ Mexico. Totally different feel than in the states. Less commercialism, despair and safeness and more of people just shopping for dinner and essentials

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Phil on the contrast.

    On another note… Some friends in my small group read my blog and one of them saw me in Wal-Mart after I posted this. He was like, “Caught you!” And I replied, “I’m just buying bread flower and a few buttons!” I guess you can’t win…

  3. […] post comes from Ed Cyzewski, who I read about this morning on Christine Sine’s Advent blog. The post I am pasting here is not from Christines blog, but after reading Ed’s […]

  4. […] Third Wednesday of Advent –  Ed Cyzewski – The Search for a Meaningful Christmas, Moving Beyond Guilt and Sentiment […]

  5. […] Wednesday of Advent –  Ed Cyzewski – The Search for a Meaningful Christmas, Moving Beyond Guilt and Sentiment Jude Tiersma Watson – Christmas Joy Voices from the Fuller […]

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