Christmas has long become a season of shopping with scarce regard to the true meaning behind the holiday. Recently, the American Atheists group in New York displayed a billboard sign in Times Square that read, “Who Needs Christ During Christmas? Nobody.” The American Atheists might find it acceptable to celebrate Christ’s birth without Christ but some in America still believe having a party for someone without that person present is absurdity at its best.
On Christmas Eve, I was fortunate enough to meet one such person. Parked in front of the courthouse in the city, a red pick-up truck displayed a beautiful nativity scene. Lit by power provided by the truck, sounds of glorious Christmas music floated in the crisp night air. 76-year-old Jack Ruckel stood outside in chilly 17 degrees, handing out candy canes and waving to people driving by in their cars. When I spoke with him, Ruckel told me that he had displayed his manger scene every Christmas for the last 15 years since the commissioners decided not to allow nativity scene displays at the courthouse lawn in 1999. Despite having knee surgeries, an open-heart surgery, and the explicit instructions from his wife to give up the display, Ruckel continues to appear every Christmas-making his nativity scene a local tradition enjoyed by many.
Although Christmas has become highly commercialized, it is heartwarming to see that people, such as Ruckel, still know that Christmas is about much more than another day for a shopping spree. Indeed, Christmas is not about the gifts you receive under a tree but about the birth of the One who gave us the ultimate gift: His life. Unfortunately, those celebrating Christmas without Christ completely miss this point. For the rest of us, Christ shall remain in the center of this wonderful holiday because without Him, there is no Christmas.