“And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7
Growing up I fantasized about perfect Christmas days. Ideas pulled from movies and magazines filled my head with dreamy unrealistic expectations. When I became a wife and mom, I worked really hard to create those expectations. From attempts at difficult recipes and festive decorations to trying to monopolize the calendar and line up extended family, my “control” sabotaged my family’s Christmas cheer.
Then there were the save the world years I tried to give only gifts that helped others and buy only Fair Trade. Decorations were minimal and donations were grand. I finally, learned I couldn’t save the world all in the month of December. It was going to have to be a continual process one step at a time. That idea didn’t seem very Christmassy. It required the whole year.
This year I’ve stopped to take time to redefine Christmas. It started with Luke 2:4-7 which says, “And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
It occurred to me after reading this passage that Christmas wasn’t so “Merry and Bright.” Celebration came after the birth of Christ, as did a lot of messiness. The journey to the stable was anything but smooth. There weren’t carolers, cookies or candy canes. No decorated trees and boughs of holly.
There was a mandatory government census requiring people to return to their families’ origin. There was judgment of being betrothed with child, but not quite married. There was the discomfort of riding a donkey to get to Bethlehem and then showing up in labor with no place to give birth, let alone a nurse to coach through breathing. Then there was a manger. A smelly, dung infested, straw covered manger.
And in that manger was born a savior.
Chaos, exhaustion and pain were part of life. And then came a baby who would change the world. The world. Not just a moment, week, season, neighborhood, country…the world.
- Taking time to worship. Focusing on the Christ child. Enjoying the Advent aspect of the season. Preparing my heart and opening my eyes to see God’s glorious gifts around me. Really examining the gift of Christ.
- Spending time with family. Many people don’t have that luxury. But for this point in time I do and I want them to know they are loved and appreciated.
- Reevaluating my giving. Lately, I’ve wrestled with God on my giving attitude. I’ve learned a lot, too. Hopefully, I’ll be brave enough to share some day; but as for now, I’m still in the learning process. I want to give from my heart.
- Stopping to notice those around me and seeking ways to be kind. Looking people in the eye when I talk to them. Laughing. Smiling. Retiring the grumpy Grinch that comes with fear of imperfection and the selfishness of having to have it my way.
- Singing with joy! Hymns, carols, Christmas music and holiday tunes. When my voice sings, my soul dances and my heart rejoices.
What are you seeking in Christmas this year?