As a kid I used to get so excited for this Season. I loved all things Christmas. From baking cookies, to participating in the school Christmas program, to decorating the tree, I was all about the festivities of the Season. Presents were the best. Weeks before the big day, my mom would oh-so-carefully wrap each gift with love and place it under the tree with a little gift tag attached to let us know who each present was for.
I always counted how many presents I was getting to make sure I wasn't getting shortchanged. I'd shake them, too, trying to guess their contents or figure out what gift might fit into what box. Yes, the gifts were my favorite part. In fact, sometimes the anticipation of what was inside the boxes was too much for my little heart to handle. One Christmas, I even grew so bold as to unwrap one of the presents and peek inside the box. To this day, I can't recall what the gift was, but I still remember the guilt I felt for being so sneaky. But back then I just couldn't help myself, I loved getting presents for Christmas
The night before Christmas was the best. I knew Santa was coming and that when I awoke in the morning, the living room floor would be littered with presents. I was usually too excited to sleep, so when I thought everyone else was in bed, I would carefully crawl out of my room to the living room trying not to make a sound. Once I reached the "Santa pile" I would feel around in the dark for which gifts I thought were for me from Santa.
Getting presents at Christmas was just so exciting. But here's the deal, once the gifts had been opened and I'd inspected every package, I always felt this let down like, "Oh is that all?" After weeks and weeks of anticipation, was this all there was too Christmas? It wasn't that I didn't like my gifts. I usually did, well except for the underwear. Underwear wasn't that exciting of a gift. But mostly, I got what I asked for, what I wanted. So why, once the presents were unwrapped, did I feel so disappointed, so empty inside.
Maybe it's because my focus was all wrong.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year. There's so much to do, so much to celebrate, so much fun to be had. But truly if that's all Christmas is about, the busyness, the festivities, activities and, yes, even those wonderful presents, then I'm afraid it's going to leave us feeling shortchanged every time. No matter how many presents we get or how great the Holiday Meal is, Christmas, in and of itself, will never be enough.
That's because Christmas is about so much more than what we tend to make of it. It's about the Babe in the manger, the one sent to us from heaven above. The one who never disappoints - never hides behind fancy wrappings and turns out to be not what we expected.
The gift of Jesus is the fact that he's with us always. Each and every single day of the week, Jesus is with us. There's joy in that knowledge, joy that can't be contained. Christmas may never fully live up to all of the hype, but Jesus does. He truly is the gift that keeps on giving. May we all be wise enough to remember that, not only today but every single day of our lives.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Until next time!
Life is full of ups and downs. That’s what I’ve learned in my 45 years on this planet. Today is my birthday and one of the gifts I decided to give myself was the gift of writing. I love to write, but I don’t have much time for it these days. That’s okay. The older I get (which is now pretty old) the more I realize that everything happens in stages. Seasons come and go. And life, in these changes and seasons, can be pretty beautiful.
Yesterday, however, I grew a little misty-eyed thinking about the ups and downs of life. As I was driving down the road, listening to Christmas music, I thought about my mom who passed away in December several years ago. I thought about how much I miss her and wish she was still with us. Tears formed in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks-tears of mourning. But that mourning wasn’t just over the loss of Mom. It was over the fallen state of our world and the darkness that seems to overwhelm..
Every day, we live with so much sorrow and joy, pain and delight, triumph and defeat. All of it gets mixed together and I guess I just was overwhelmed with the idea that life can be so beautiful and dark, and cold and hopeful all at the same time. I guess that’s why we refer to so many moments in life as bittersweet.
I guess I marveled, too, at the thought that God can still preserve hope in a world that seems so hopeless at times. Who but a merciful, powerful God could make a world that has seen so much tragedy still have its shining glorious moments of triumph?
After all, isn’t that what this season of Christmas is all about? How one little light shining in this world can bring us home, can make us hopeful, can fill us with joy. So yes, life is bittersweet. There’s no getting around that, but for all the hard things in life I can count a million other reasons to be thankful. I hope that you can, too.
Whatever darkness you’re facing this season, know that it really will be okay. There is hope for even the darkest of nights you find yourself in. Hold on to that hope, look to that light, no matter how dim it might seem. Find joy and beauty, and most of all the strength to carry on. Christmas hope, joy and peace be yours in abundance this season, my friends. ‘Til next time.