Yep, I mean it.
Yes, I was the former Miss Kringle. My lights are up on my house before anyone else in neighborhood, and I shop and wrap Christmas presents all throughout the year.
But there's a reason I have those lights down by the day after New Year's - and that reason is because my husband won't let me take them down the day after Christmas. Christmas music stops at my house on December 26th. Many of you want to know why.
Christmas depresses me. Christmas Day, itself, that is. It isn't "society," or the retail businesses, or non-Christians that make me feel this way. And you might not even feel the way I do, either because you are just fine with how you celebrate, or because you do a better job of doing it "right." It is how I, myself, have fallen away from remembering why we celebrate. I feel like I'm doing it wrong.
We spend a month or so with enchanting music, mesmerizing lights, and whimsical decorations. It's such a beautiful season.
But no matter how hard we try, that day comes, and it's always the same. Presents and food. Sure, the night before, we go to church and remind ourselves about the birth of Jesus. We sing, we pray, we teach from the Bible. But for the kids, that is just the last obstacle standing between them and the toys they have been hoping for all year.
Alright, that sounds harsh. I mean, who can blame them? I was the same was as a child, and even, to some degree, as an adult.
For adults, our attention usually turns a different direction. Appeasing extended family and serving food - the right food, the right kind of food, the right amount of food, and so on. Maybe this isn't you, but it sure is me. Jesus is the last thought on my mind while I am setting the table for Christmas dinner, and I hate that.
The problem isn't how excited the kids get about the presents, or how anxious the adults get about which family members are visited when, or who is eating what and when. The problem is that our celebrating is interfering with our worshipping.
We should celebrate the birth of Christ. But can we celebrate without the celebration itself becoming the focus of the celebration? (Did you follow that?)
God has blessed us. My family is blessed richly, as are many in America. We have the means to buy our children presents and prepare and eat multi-course meals. We should be thankful for that too.
But here's what I wish. I wish we could celebrate Christmas in a different way.
Jesus was born in the humblest manner that could even be imagined for a God to set foot on earth. He was born in a dirty barn, among animals, to peasant parents. I feel like our Christmas celebration should reflect that.
I would love it if Christmas were just a day where nothing was expected except a quiet worship. Maybe your church could decide on a way to lead that worship, or maybe it would be led by your own family. Work and school would be cancelled for that day, but not so we could cook or play with toys, but so we could spend the whole day understanding that God came to earth to save us. Heaven knows, it would take at least that long to comprehend that.
Then, I feel we might actually be celebrating the Savior and not ourselves or our children.
Maybe we could still have an exciting day that involves presents and family and eating. But let it be a different day. We can still thank God for His provision. Then maybe I wouldn't feel like I have missed the boat in teaching my kids about the reason for celebrating.
He has given us good things - many good gifts - and we can thank Him for what we've been given. But something tells me He doesn't need such a grand display as we have made Christmas to be.
My favorite shop at the shore still is, and always will be, the Christmas store. I guess no matter what this Christmas brings, there's always hope that the next one will be more a reflection of the real reason we celebrate.
Passion Under Grace,