Having your fruitcake and eating it too.

What do you call a person who is only attracted to another person's looks or money (and not personality, intelligence, skills, etc)?

Shallow.

What do you call a person who is attracted to another person's personality, intelligence, skills, etc - but not looks or money?

Friends.

What do you call a person who is attracted to another person's looks, money, personality, intelligence, skills, etcetcetc.?

Married (or soon to be).

I want to make a point about Christmas cheer.  There are certain aspects of Christmas that are lifted up as the Christmas experience.  Like eating fruitcake.  And this year, as with every year, we good well-meaning "pharisees" raise a big hullabaloo about what Christmas is really about (for me, its Jesus, btw).  We start check-lists, like santa, where we determine what is part of Christmas, and what is not.  Fruitcake is a tough one... its seasoned with spices (like Jesus!), full of nuts (like the church!), candy coated fruits (well, the sugar coating is like the church hehe), and lasts forever (despite our best efforts...its like the church).  When I see a fruitcake, I think of Christmas.  But do I eat it to enjoy Christmas?  Or do I keep it on my shelf to remind me of Christmas?

I think Christians can have their fruitcake and eat it too.

Christian or not, certain things make us feel like the holidays are here.  Whether its Christmas music from the local radio station, the wrapping of presents, the fact you have to bundle up every morning because it's cold outside, or whatever - all of these things, whether "secular" or "sacred" contribute to the feeling of Christmas.  Now, to my point about shallowness - Christmas is awesome in a lot of ways.  

Christmas is not shallow because money is bad.  Christmas is not shallow because looks are only "skin deep" - these things, when coupled with deep internal meaning, are actually beautiful and wonderful things!

Christmas isn't shallow nowadays because giving has taken a back-seat.  In fact, Americans in general LOVE to give Christmas presents, and its a good thing.  Christmas isn't shallow because of the trees, lights, streamers, and a million other things we put up to make it look like Christmas.  Those things are wonderful reminders!

Its shallow simply because we aren't attracted to anything but her looks.  And thats shallow.  Christmas's looks are great - but there are so many other wonderful things that we can appreciate about it.  The greatest gift is definitely Jesus, and he sometimes comes in ways you don't expect.

Sure, Christmas may give you a warm fuzzy feeling that lasts til Monday morning when we all go back to work, but it has so much more to offer you.  You can fall in love with it all over again.

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One little aside - a bit of a pastor story for you.  Twice this past Sunday people asked me if I'd been a good boy this year.  To just play coy (instead of for theological reasons), I jokingly gave the "Weeeeellll" response. Each time, they kind of giggled and said something about not telling Santa.  I responded with, "I don't know if Santa forgives us for being bad, but I bet Jesus does."  Score one for the king of kings.  Booyah!

And it got me thinking... do you know any good Christmas stories where Santa actually looks Christ-like in the forgiveness department?  Santa has some "godly" characteristics to him that would be a very immature version of God - what with the keeping lists of who is good and who is bad, doling out presents to whom he chooses, flying around in a big chariot-errrr-sleigh.  Its all quite biblical but very 6 year old.  But I can't think of any Christmas stories where Santa gives bad boys and girls toys (whereas Jesus' grace extends even to the bad ones).

See my point?  Merry Christmas.