I have to laugh at the competitions that take place around this time of year – the homeowners’ associations’ lawn decorating contests, the holiday cookie bake-offs. I even attended a mass at a church that had a competition for the “best” Christmas card design by a grade schooler. When did Christmas become so cut-throat? When was it written into the holiday lexicon to “award” people for Christmas activities, especially in churches or other faith-based insitutions.
Isn’t the “prize” of Christmas, well, Christmas?
All the other “stuff” – the one-upmanship, the jockeying for a prize position – isn’t really Christmas, is it?
Our Lord would never have won the award for lawn decoration. He didn’t have a lawn, and a manger is hardly what we think of as stunning artistry.
The shepherds did not look up to the angels singing of Christmas and pick out the one that they deemed “best” at vocalizing.
Mary and Joseph did not inspect the gifts from the magi and pick and choose which one was most worthy of the baby Jesus.
I completely understand wanting all that we do at Christmas to be the best possible. Even for those of us who are ill, the holidays is a time to shine more brightly, be more practiced and perfect in our celebrations and worship.
But, competition? Hmm… Instead of striving to “beat” one another, isn’t it more fitting to sit together, humbly, before Our Lord? To be thankful for the gift, not envious of a prize (small “p”), but rather in awe of the Prize – the Prize that is Christmas.