Another Christmas. To be honest, I am equally looking forward to the family day and looking forward to all of Christmas season to be over. To get back to normal. Christmas involves so much duty and hard work. What is it about Christmas that causes most all Americans to get Christmas-itis and suddenly, temporarily desire to try to make “Christmas magic” happen, pay it forward, give gifts they normally would not think of giving, decorate, put up lights, bake incredulous amounts of baked goods, spend money beyond the budget, reach out to neighbors, etc. etc.? I am equally part a Christmas-lover and part bah hum bug. Since I worship Christ and celebrate the great incarnation all year long, Christmas is an important time for me spiritually. It is a time to remember, ponder and reflect on the virgin conception and birth — when God became human forever in the miraculous, incomprehensible merging of God and humans when God supplied the Y chromosome for Mary’s virgin conception. It is time to remember the incredible condescension of God/Jesus to stoop so low as to become human, to be born a baby in such humble circumstances. For Jesus to become fully human without stopping also being fully God and fully perfect (incomprehensible) and to be willing to suffer so much, to be tempted by the devil so He could understand our temptations. To go to the shameful, heinous cross to pay for my sins so He could be my Great High Priest. To rise again in victory. To appear to so many witnesses and provide the written record of the four gospels for my understanding. To ascend to the right hand of God. To call me by grace to believe in Him by His Spirit. To daily intercede for me. Every year, more and more each year, I am determined to not let the world’s version of Christmas busy-ness and Christmas-itis overshadow or supersede my spiritual worship. And by God’s grace I am doing better at the focus on Christ each year.
But I also get caught up in the temporary insanity, the trying to make magic happen. Is this a bad thing? I was praying about and pondering Christmas as I woke up early this morning. Why do I really do it? Like Charlie Brown, I wonder what is Christmas really all about? I have the spiritual focus down, so what about the practical? A couple of the things I do to make Christmas magic are: AFTER Thanksgiving day, and only after, I decorate my house the best I can with what I’ve collected over the years. I wanted to spend more money and was tempted to buy a lot more Christmas decor things that I would regret when it came time to store them another year. But I resisted. Then I gradually add more and more decor refinements as I have time, out of what I have on hand. Why do I do this? Mostly for my granddaughters–to try to make some magic for them. For my family, to create at least an attempt at a pretty Christmas environment for our family time together. For any visitors who come by to enjoy. And, truly, for the Lord Jesus–I go to all the effort for Him because He deserves to be celebrated. And I realized, I really do enjoy doing it, though it is back breaking very hard work. I thank God for my home and the privilege of using it the best I can for Him.
And I bake. I get bake-itis. I grew up learning to bake, enjoying it, and finding my identity in part in being a good baker. It feels like if I don’t bake a ton of goodies I will be a Christmas failure. If I don’t make each family’s personal favorite, that Christmas will be lacking. Growing up in a lot of tight budgeting in a large family and not always having much that was special most of the year, when mom and dad (mostly mom I think) was able to supply a sudden bounty of baked goods and treats, it made Christmas very magical in my childhood. I feel a need to try to recreate that same feeling in my family. But then, our circumstances are not the same. My family lives in bounty all year long. How can you match or beat that at Christmas time? This year, I’ve intentionally simplified and baked less. I invited a family member to join me in my baking to try to pass down the skill and tradition to try to make it more meaningful. I am also keeping Christmas dinner more simple. I believe less is more a lot of the time. I’m realizing that I don’t have to try to recreate my childhood situation. Traditions are great, but they are not always sustainable from one generation to the next, and I think we need to give up that pressure when it is appropriate.
So I sit here at my messy desk writing out thoughts on Christmas morning instead of getting moving to start my Christmas chores to get ready for my family’s dinner celebration later today. Even keeping it more simple, it is a lot of work. Every single chore I do, when I realize it is done for and out of celebration of King Jesus at Christmas time and always, will not be done in vain. So catching Christmas-itis, if kept in balance and done for the right reasons, is not a bad thing. No matter how the family time goes–smoothly or with a few bumps and goofs here and there, it won’t disappoint if it was done for Christ and not in trying to make my family my “idol” to worship. Christmas time is not the time to suddenly expect one’s family to be perfect and like a Norman Rockwell painting or the inevitable happy ending of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Christmas time is the time to love, serve, and help your family as best you can, to pray, and to commit to another year of service and hard work, for my family and for other people as the Lord leads, in the Name of and for the glory of King Jesus. And to remember how blessed we really are, just to simply be together, not to have lost anyone to cancer or whatever tragedy yet as so many families I know are facing. We must count our blessings and be thankful at Christmas! We aren’t in the middle of a world war wondering if bombs will drop. We are so blessed! I am starting to get it, gradually more and more each year.
Perhaps writing these thoughts and remembering the right focus will help negate or at least decrease the inevitable post-Christmas depression and discouragement I often succumb to. Oh may God help us all who struggle in this regard. I don’t know why I write, it is just a compulsion on my heart and I believe a gift from God to be shared.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31.
I am wishing everyone the happiest Christmas possible, being content with whatever circumstances God has given us. My heart grieves with those who grieve and I fully understand disappointment with Christmas… May God help us all to do the best we can for Him and to count our blessings. Now on to the last of the Christmas chores………….