What is Christmas? Part 1
So, I started making my Christmas cards in August this year. Praise the Lord! 220 cards just about done. Not all made. About 80, I bought. Necessity!
Lights up, thanks to my wonderful man.
Packages under the tree, thank you free internet shipping the first two weeks of December…caught onto that little trick last year.
Had my December cold, thanks to Thanksgiving with family.
Lost a few needed pounds, thanks to accountability partners who needed me.
Working out…until the head cold, thanks to a free treadmill that I requested be left in this house when we bought it.
House…not totally gross, not totally clean, thanks to all who live here. :)
Having family devotions with a lovely pewter candle holder with an engraved symbol that highlights each devotion, thanks to “The Jesse Tree”, and a yard sale earlier this year.
Giving Christmas clothes to kids younger than mine. Cleaning out closets, by the grace of God. Washing, delivering.
Getting kids to play practices, rescheduling for snow. Snow days, school out. Reschedules.
School parties…today! Baking!
Finals: first of the week to study for.
Christmas at my Dad’s this weekend. Baking! Finalizing gifts.
On track, for having been sick with a yucky cold.
So…my only regret is that by evening, I am often short-tempered. Bothered by little things like redundant noises: chewing my ear while I’m on the computer, someone rummaging through a drawer beside me, digging through a cabinet, people munching on needless snacks (did I mention, while standing right behind my ear, while I’m at the computer? Shopping? Thinking? Figuring out computer problems?)
Toilet paper not put on the roll, drawers left open, socks and coats still left all over the house after countless reminders. Homework not done.
I can’t do it all! UGH! I’m feeling it again!!!
Irritability –perhaps due to overload. Inexcusable.
What needs to be dropped next year to make room for more peace within? Perhaps it’s not just about “getting ahead”, but doing LESS.
None help. Still, irritability…inexcusable.
Looking for help, I read “The Love Chapter” again. I Corinthians 13. I love to go there when I’m “off”.
I Corinthians 13:4 leaps off the page:
Yes. This is what I’m looking for.
This is prayer for the rest of my season.
And I begin to pray: Lord, that I may endure long, and have your patience, your kindness. You are SO patient and kind to me every day, not giving me as I deserve, but according to your love and faithfulness and mercy…you are so kind!
Help me, Lord to deal with all the added interuptions and demands. Help me to somehow know when to play and enjoy people, to give the the hugs and kisses. To flush the stresses.
A reminder I received today from a friend said, “This Christmas–STOP. Yes, just stop. Look around. You have a ton to be thankful for. All the little things that may seem to be so important to get done so that your family can have the “perfect Christmas” really won’t make it so. Sprinkle each day with love, laughter and lots of hugs. Tell your family you love them. Share the real reason for Christmas–LOVE. You’ll have a perfect one after all.
I heard a TV show say yesterday for the umpteenth time, “Family…being together! That’s what Christmas is all about, after all!” WRONG, I say! I learned that the hard way last year when my Mom and step-Dad where in Iraq, being bombed over the holidays. Thank God, they were never hurt, through other health emergencies arose shortly thereafter. A very stressful time.
That’s not what Christmas is all about.
It’s not about traditions.
It’s not about family at all, though that is very important and should be very high on our priority list, because it’s very important to God. Family is our grounding place, the basis of our makeup. Family deserves our honor, help, and love. We build one another up through the years, though others come and go.
But things come up. Things interfere. Schedules get whacked. People get sick. Feelings get hurt. It all happens. It’s not all holly jolly. Details exist. Reality happens.
Even in our priorities, it’s easy to forget…
It’s about Jesus, who came to help.
It’s about a baby born as a Saviour –stepping into the darkest of days, a day no one looked forward to, that day’s “tax day”. And he wasn’t born into lights, carols, and a decorated tree. He was born in a hewn-out place of rock called a “barn”, an unsterilized, unprepared, stinky place. He was born into controversy, uncertainty, “people talking”. And yet, those looking saw him.
So no. It’s not about the family gathering. Not about the food. Not about the little ones. Not about the gifts. Those are our responses to Him, but not “the reason”. What truly blesses HIM. Is it the stuffs, or is it our attitude? Our humble response?
I was at one gathering last week where the host said, “To be honest, I just can’t wait until Christmas is over.”
And I felt like, “Then why did you do it? I came for you.”
Instead, I said, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
Do it out of the grace he offers, not out of obligation, or it doesn’t accomplish the intended effect. None of it does. It’s just “more stuff” to do. Some years are just hard. It’s okay. He will be there for you, too.
Reading through the Old Testamant last year (only made it about a third of the way through, but hey, I’ll pick up there this year), I realized God is a God of celebration! In the Old Testamant, he told the people to not forget or neglect their special celebration days. He loved for them to remember what he’d done for them, and to celebrate! Because when they didn’t remember, they got into all kinds of trouble, seeking after false gods and idols.
The festivities are important as they help us remember. Take that time to celebrate. But, it’s not in the stuff…he should be the reason FOR the stuff. We get it so backward.
This year, having things as “in place” and “ahead of schedule” as they can be…still facing demands and irritability and “not enough time” feelings…I tend to think we forget the MOST IMPORTANT thing: preparing our hearts to be giving people, to care for others, to take time to show we appreciate them, to be in “good grace”. Yesterday, a teacher shared a kind word and a smile when I ran into the classroom looking for a math paper. On my drive home, it brought warm tears to my eyes as I reflected on her kindnes,s as opposed to the glare I’ve often received for trying. Undeserved favor and positive regard. That’s grace. People who are trying need it, crave it, long for it. Do we give it? Do we show them we care? We love them? We want them to experience joy? Care? Concern? Take the time. That’s Christmas.
MERRY CHRISTMAS! May Christ’s kindness fall on you daily, and may you walk in it, give it, cultivate it, and share it.