It is a disease, an affliction which lies dormant for eleven and half months then emerges like a bad cold or flu at the beginning of winter. Not all people have this affliction. Some breeze through the holidays with little or no inclination to succumb to its overwhelming and debilitating symptoms. Still others experience a mild case, fleeting and passing like a mild irritant, a sniffle or a mild stomach ache easily soothed by a cup of tea or bowl of soup.
For people like me it appears every year and I am unable to resist its infectious and dominating sway. No matter how busy I may be, or caught up in the business of planning worship services, buying gifts, and travel planning, I succumb each year to this seasonal disease. You know what I am talking about: Decorating for Christmas!
Those of us who suffer from “Holiday Adornment Disease” (HAD) have no control over the impulse to cover their home and yard with miles of Christmas lights, inflatable snowmen, synthetic wreaths, angels, reindeer, elves, nativity figurines and anything else that is remotely associated with the winter festival known as Christmas; including polar bears, penguins and every cartoon character from Mickey Mouse to Snoopy. (I do draw the line with the little odd-shaped yellow creatures known as Minions.)
Only HAD can cause a grown man to crawl over a frost-covered roof and lean precariously over the edge in a life threatening effort to hang lights which mimics the glittering icicles that nature stubbornly refuses to provide. This is due in large part because of global warming that is caused by the extra electricity which needs to be produced in an effort to light all the Christmas decorations.
To my knowledge there is no cure or treatment for the ailment. Indeed, retailers feed the affliction, encouraging those who suffer from HAD to seek out the latest displays and technology that will brighten and enhance people’s properties to a greater glory than had been achieved before. They prey upon those of us who are slave to this disease by placing their seductive products on the shelves earlier and earlier each year. As long as corporations profit from HAD there will be no incentive to find a cure.
Fortunately the symptoms only last for a few weeks each year although there are some for whom the affliction goes unabated through Valentine’s, Easter, Fourth of July and Halloween. This is known as “Acute Holiday Adornment Disease” (AHAD). They are not dangerous, except to themselves when they fall off a roof or electrocute themselves. So society tolerates them like an eccentric uncle or an oddball cousin. People understand they mean well and have certain desires which are benign and provide a source of amusement and joy for the normal people who do not suffer from AHAD.
HAD at one time was known as CAD for “Christmas Adornment Disorder”. To be more politically correct, Christmas was changed to “Holiday”. There was also at one time a subcategory known as ACAD or “Acute Christmas Adornment Disorder”. This addressed the desire to excessively decorate for Christmas with over the top embellishment. AHAD is the new designation for ACAD and recognizes the excessive desire to over decorate for all holiday occasions.
The real issue with AHAD (or ACAD if you prefer) is not its excessive behavior. It is the inability of the people who suffer from it to remember why they do it. The meaning of a crèche or a shining star is lost to them. A radiant angel is simply more and brighter lights rather than a herald announcing the birth of a King. Polar bears have replaced wise men bearing kingly gifts and penguins have taken the place of shepherds seeking the Christ child.
I like to think that my decorations are a reminder of the joy of Christmas. I hope when people see a shivering snowman or reindeer with a red nose they will smile and experience a little bit of the joy which God intended to bestow with the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a reminder of how much God loves us and that He wished to be among us even if He had to be born in a stable. I will continue to decorate my home till old age prevents me from climbing the roof. Hopefully God will give me the vitality to do so for many years to come so parents can drive by my house and show the children that Christmas is a time of wonder and joy.
We forget that the decorated tree is a sign of everlasting life through Christ, that the wreath is a covenant of God’s eternal and unending love and that the holly and the berry are the blood and life which Jesus gave for us on the cross. The lights that are strewn over our houses reaffirms that the light of Christ is present in our home and our hearts. Snoopy and Mickey and yes even those little yellow minions, declare that our hearts are filled with gladness and joy which comes from God. May we never forget the reason we celebrate this season and may the lights and the adornments be a declaration of joy and hope for all the world to receive Christ our Lord and Savior.
Merry Christmas and God’s eternal peace to all who share and receive the light of Christ. Pastor Dan and Debbie