When the Christmas season hits, which for me in the retail world is right after Halloween ends, I immediately turn into a take charge, CEO-mom of all things Christmas. It involves detailed lists in hidden places with pseudonyms for list titles, always looking in stores with an eye for who I can mark off the list, and checking all the sales flyers and circulars for the latest and greatest. I start looking at the myriad of magazines for inspiration on decorating my house and making creative and wonderful goodies for friends and neighbors. And then there’s the Christmas card…
Sometime between the disappointment of my house not looking perfect and the exhaustion that comes from family life during the holidays with four children, I remember the baby in the manger and how simple and dirty and beautiful it all is. Thankfully, it stops me in my tracks and reminds me that not one single thing has to be done to celebrate the season. He is coming whether we have everyone’s gift ready or not, whether the house gets decorated or not, whether my friends and neighbors feel loved or not. As I realize that Christmas is not about what I need to do, rather about the most amazing and glorious moment in the world’s history, then my heart moves from dread to worship. Hallelujah! It’s at this point that Jesus enters our family Christmas celebration. We fight daily to keep Him there, and I do mean fight. It is a battle, albeit a worthy one.
· We begin to remind our children that, despite what they think, they don’t have a right to receive wonderful and extravagant gifts for Christmas. They receive 3 gifts to remind them of the gifts brought to Jesus.
· We pray a lot for our “angel tree” gift recipient—almost every time we pray together as a family we pray for him/her.
· We put the lights on our tree as a reminder of the most wonderful light that invades not only the darkness of the world but the darkness of our own hearts.
· We focus on gifting others and try to stay away from the “what do you want for Christmas” question.
· On Christmas Eve, in addition to worshiping with my extended family at a beloved Christmas Eve service, we read the story of Jesus birth from the Bible right before bed.
Now, don’t be too impressed with this list. It’s always a work in process and we’re so forgetful and easily enticed. As soon as we remember Jesus, we tend to forget. I’ve learned to not despise the disappointments of less than perfect decorations, disappointed children and Christmas cards that sometimes never get done. It’s in these grace-filled moments that God redirects my affections from the trimmings to the truth and my heart, therefore, becomes ready for the king.
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