This post refers to Jesus, but don’t worry. The ideas apply to everyone, Christian or otherwise. Also, this is a long one, so grab your beverage of choice and a scone or a cookie.

When it comes to the holidays, I’m all in. Decorations in every corner. A twelve-foot tree with hundreds of ornaments. Caloric baked goods that guarantee a need for a New Year’s diet. Twenty-four-hour Hallmark Channel, and Christmas music on speed dial. But even I recognize a month is enough. If everyday was Christmas, it wouldn’t be special, a time of festivities that we plan for and eagerly anticipate for the other eleven months of the year.

Christmas is one giant birthday party for Jesus, and everyone is invited. If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, that’s okay. Like people invited to an event where they don’t know the host, you are welcome to eat the food, admire the decorations, and dance to the music. Our Host is magnanimous and gives freely of everything He has whether He knows you personally or not. And the greatest gift He has to give belongs to everyone, no matter what their ethnicity or affiliation.

This is where I veer off church doctrine, so if you are offended by such things, this is the time to switch to another page. You see, in my view, Jesus wasn’t born to lay the heavy burden of his sacrifice on our backs. Quite the opposite. He came to relieve us of our guilt and pay our penance so that we can revel in the experience of being alive.

Jesus had thirty years to know all the wonders and trials of being human before he burst onto the scene as the savior of all mankind. He took his first steps into the arms of a loving mother. He probably cried when baby teeth cut his gums, then discovered the wonders of solid food. He didn’t have Zaxby’s or Chick-Fil-A, but I bet Mary made a mean honey cake, and though she was young when she married, I’m sure experience taught her the exact right way to season fish. Did he come running when she called out that dinner was ready, or when the aroma of fresh stew wafted out of their house?

Based on the culture of the time, Jesus probably had to work with his dad as soon as he was old enough to be useful. He must have gotten a splinter or two as he learned the feel of wood, and run to his mother to pull it out. Did a day come when Joseph told him to be a man and stop running to his mother like a child? Did Jesus carry his father’s tools to houses or shops or even the Temple when he needed to work on site?

I bet he had friends like any other boy, and they ran races or played ball when their folks gave them a break from work. Maybe he had a dog who followed him like a shadow, and slept with him to keep him warm on a cool, desert night. Maybe that dog was waiting for him across the Rainbow Bridge, a well-earned reward for the suffering he had to endure. Maybe even now they are together, and images of Jesus in heaven should include a faithful dog at his side.

I could go on and on because I’m sure he packed a lot of living into those thirty years. He wasn’t born knowing to serve wine at a wedding, or that loaves and fishes provide the perfect meal to fill an empty belly. Without a full life, he couldn’t have understood how a parent grieves for a child or why a man would want to be raised from the peace of death back into the trials of life. Did God just plant the understanding of the faith of a child in his brain, or did He give him thirty years to figure it out for himself?

This is the spirit of Christmas to take with us throughout the year. Like Ebeneezer Scrooge, remember the past, live in the present, and prepare for the future. Like George Bailey realize and be grateful for your wonderful life. Like Charlie Brown, see the beauty and potential in the smallest and most humble things. Like Wallace and Davis, turn disappointment into opportunity, and if you’re patient enough, you might even get snow. Like Frosty, live life fully and joyfully while you have it. Like Santa don’t be ashamed of your waistline, but be known for your giving spirit and contagious laugh.

Like Jesus, know that life is a gift worth being human for. That is the true spirit of Christmas.

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