I was having a hard time getting in “the Christmas spirit” this year, and I wasn’t completely sure why.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
I began to contemplate the reasons for my un-Christmas like attitude.
The 80-degree weather might have had something to do with it. For some reason, when I think about Christmas, I think about snow, which is really strange because living in the south, snow is a rare event. I decided to rule out snow, but it should at least be cold. After I thought about it, I remembered that in the past I have had to turn the air conditioner down so that I could have a fire in the fireplace. I decided to rule out weather completely and strike it off the list of reasons I was in a funk.
Next, I wondered if the fact that my family dynamics had changed and certain traditions that I cherished were no longer possible might have had something to do with my lack of Christmas cheer. When the kids were little, decorating was so much fun, except when they would “un-decorate” things or fight over who got to hang which ornament where. Still, watching their eyes light up was worth it all. That one, I decided, had to stay on the list.
For a brief moment, I entertained the thought that not sending out Christmas cards could be part of the problem. Then I remembered that sending them out caused great anxiety for me. Well, I guess it wasn’t the sending as much as it was the taking of the picture that almost did me in every year. Getting four children, two of whom had no idea how to stand still for longer than a millisecond and one who refused to smile, to cooperate for a family picture reduced me to a frazzled mother making threats through clenched teeth. That didn’t really bring much Christmas cheer to my spirit; therefore, I marked it off the list of possibilities.
I next considered the fact that I am just tired from an over committed and under rested life style. I can’t seem to find time to decorate, or the energy to decorate…or even some of the decorations. The ribbon for the tree is missing and so are half the bows for the front of the house. How is that possible? Someone came into my house, rummaged through my attic, and stole them. Who would do such a thing? Anyway, the other day, a friend and I were talking about hiring someone to decorate our houses. We laughed. She was joking – I was not. I decided that this one was a legitimate reason for feeling out of sorts, so I left it on the list.
My youngest decided to not go with some friends to do something because he wanted to stay home and watch a Christmas movie with his mom. He is now my favorite child. We decided on “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, and we plopped down on the couch to watch it.
I was amazed at how much Charlie Brown and I had in common when it came to Christmas joy…or lack there of.
After much contemplation over his depressed state, Charlie Brown yelled out, “Isn’t there anyone who can tell me what Christmas is all about?”
I was right there with him. Then Linus stepped in and set us both straight.
“Sure,” Linus told Charlie Brown, “I can tell you what Christmas is about.”
He walked out onto the stage and began to recite part of the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke:
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
That’s it, plain and simple. Linus nailed it. Joy at Christmas has nothing to do with what the world says should bring us joy. It’s not about Christmas cards, decorations, parties, shopping, presents, or even family traditions. It’s about a tiny gift from God wrapped in swaddling clothes. Joy comes from realizing that the King of kings left His throne to walk among us and to save us from our sins because of His great love for us.
When we lose our focus, we miss the joy of the season. So my hope is that amidst all the boxes and ribbon and paper, we find the real gift, the real cause for celebration; the one wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
Have a blessed and joy-filled week!
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