Each year I struggle with mixed feelings about Christmas. This year was no exception, but I did much better at working through and not getting bogged down into bad moods or wrong feelings this year. I wonder if others have these struggles.
Some of the things I love most about Christmas are:
- The true spiritual message of Christmas (the gospel of Jesus Christ) is shared and embraced more at this season than at other times of the year, especially by those who don’t seem to think of God at other times of the year. It’s a welcome reminder for me even though I study and celebrate the Incarnation of God, Christ being born to save the world from sin, and that Christ will reign forever as Savior and Judge all year long, 24/7. And it’s a good chance to share the good news about Jesus when people might be more receptive to it.
- The beauty of outdoor Christmas lights displays, generously provided by others, which to me symbolize the light that Christ brings into our dark world.
- Decorating my home with my trees and ornaments, snowmen, nutcrackers and other collections I love to pull out of storage each year.
- Baking and decorating cookies and making cinnamon rolls and other goodies.
- Singing Christmas carols and songs, especially with others, and enjoying the special music of the season, especially the song Oh Holy Night, and going to The Singing Christmas Tree performance.
- Gathering with family and loved ones and having the privilege of having others over to our home by hosting dinner.
- Finding gifts for children, especially for my grandchildren.
- Attending church Christmas services with my church family.
But some of the things that I dislike about Christmas are:
- The world’s materialistic message which pressures us to buy, buy, buy. And generally, I don’t like exchanging gifts, nor receiving and giving gifts to adults, because I find it impossible to discover what someone would really like or need, and I find I, and most people, don’t really need anything anyway. The old gift giving tradition seems unnecessary for most adults; it is fun for children. Sometimes I love to find someone truly in need, and give them a gift, but I practice this year-round, not just at Christmas.
- The false Santa Claus message which says that children should only get gifts if they are “good enough” (because no one is ever good enough apart from God). I’d rather children learn the true Christian message of how we humans are sinners in need of a Savior, which is why Christ became human, born in that stable in Bethlehem.
- I sometimes resent all the work, duties and pressure that go into Christmas on top of my already busy life. And I wonder how much family and others really appreciate it or even realize what is involved.
- I dislike the “pressure” to try to suddenly be a “perfect” super close family, like is presented in all the Christmas movies, or to carry out so many “traditions” that might not even make much sense anymore. The high ideals for the Christmas holiday often disappoint me.
I have no job, other than my homemaking, family, volunteer, and outreach work that I routinely do. I do struggle with illnesses, but I realize I have more time and resources than many people, and I often remind myself how blessed I am. Some of the things that have helped me do better at enjoying Christmas, celebrating it rightly in a way that will honor God, and not getting disappointed or depressed or overwhelmed by it this year are:
- Really putting God first in my life (as I try to do always) by maintaining consistent morning devotions in the Word of God (the Bible) and prayer.
- I did my Christmas decorating of my home earlier, right after Thanksgiving, so at least that was done before other duties hit. But I left my tree ornaments nearby so when grandchildren and others came by, I could put a few ornaments on the trees with them to make it more meaningful. I like to have several small trees in various rooms of the house instead of just one large tree.
- Every single duty I did this year, I did carefully with the right motive of heart – not just because I felt I had to, or even to bless myself, my family and others – but I did everything for the Lord Jesus Christ, to thank Him for becoming human forever for me, for making my salvation and eternal life possible, and with an attitude of worship to my Triune God (Father, Son, Spirit) who are/is (3 in one is so incomprehensible) all involved in God’s perfect plan of salvation which is the spiritual purpose for celebrating Christmas.
- I purposed to keep it as simple as possible. The meal I planned was simpler than usual, I did not give in to the pressure to buy gifts for people other than the children I desired to and felt led to bless with gifts. I received the gifts that were given to me, that I would rather not have received, with grace and thankfulness, for the good of the giver, without any guilt for not having purchased gifts for others.
- I refused to believe in the world’s fake message of “Christmas magic” and high expectations for “the perfect Christmas” and instead resolved to enjoy and look for the blessings and positives, accepting also the negatives, realizing instant perfection would not happen.
So, even though snow and ice prevented most of our guests and family from even attending our planned Christmas dinner, I was grateful to God for the few who were able to travel on the ice-covered roads and come. Missing seeing some loved ones on actual Christmas day was a good lesson in remembering how blessed I am to have family nearby and how often I do get to be with them. And now we’ll just get to do another family gathering later on. If we think about it, those of us who are blessed to live nearby family and gather with them on a fairly regular basis – we are really blessed with Christmas all year long. I wish and pray that God would help me and all to really celebrate and have the attitude of giving to others and trying to make life special all year long, 24/7, not just when the calendar hits December.
Dear God: Help us understand that the true Spirit of Christmas is Your gospel truth and the high, worthy standards to which all believers are called. May Your Holy Spirit help us to be loving, giving, celebrating, and reaching out to others every day, all year long. Please comfort those who may be grieving, suffering, or disappointed this season.