I love Christmas! I love the selfless giving and the joy that seems to surround the season. I love that it's Jesus' Birthday! It's also more activities and more shopping! That part I don't like as much! It's exhausting! Every year I think this is the year I will do it differently. I will find a way to make it more simple and more about Jesus. And every year, I fall into the same traps.
Even though each year is different, I still haven't found the secret to making it simple. We've already celebrated two Christmases. I have two boys who live in Arizona, and neither can come for Christmas this year. So they each came separately. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad they came, and I'm thrilled I had the time to celebrate Christmas with them. I still prefer we all be together, but this is the next best thing. I'm beginning to think instead of planning to make it more simple; I would be better off just to enjoy it however it comes! This year it is several different celebrations, but if my focus is on Christ each time, then it will be good. It doesn't have to be about having a Birthday party for Jesus like we've done most Christmas Eves since I can remember, but about making sure there is love and peace in everything I do. When we focus on giving to others whether it be the gift of our time, an encouraging word, or something we have bought, then we are celebrating Jesus. If we spend more than we have and go into debt to make other people happy for like two minutes, I don't know if that is celebrating the birth of our Lord. If we stress over making sure everything is perfect, and we hit all the holiday activities, but find ourselves grumpy and irritable, then have we really made it about Christ?
Making this Christmas about Jesus might mean we have a party for Him with friends and/or family or it might mean we sacrifice our usual plans to spend it with friends or family in a different way. We may decide to serve those less fortunate or invite non-churched co-workers to our church's Christmas Production. Maybe we can do many activities and not lose our joy, but perhaps we will only do some of them because we don't want to lose our joy!
Traditions are another wonderful way to celebrate. We have a few that have survived, but some have fizzled out as our children became adults. That's okay. That's the way life works! I'm learning that going with the flow is sometimes better than having to have it the way it's always been. After all, there is not a set of hard and fast rules telling us "This is how to make your Christmas about Jesus." What does the Bible say? The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
One silly, but fun tradition we are still doing this year is each person has there own wrapping paper only they don't know which one is there's. I'm the only one who knows because I'm the one who wraps them. Of course, it only applies to the gifts we get them. Each person must guess which wrapping paper belongs to them. We go around the room until the first one guesses correctly and then they are the first one to open their present. The second person to guess gets to open their gift next and so forth. We generally gave our children three presents each as they were growing up. A long time ago, I read about giving three gifts as the wise men did. Gold: the big gift; Myrrh: the practical gift; and Frankincense: the spiritual gift. Since our children are grown, and we have added a spouse, we don't always do that anymore.
Maybe next year, I will accomplish the simple. But for this year, I'm going to enjoy what it is, not what it isn't. I'm going to be intentional about spreading joy and peace wherever I am. I'm going to remember and reflect on the fact that Jesus was born and what it means. I'm going to live this Christmas season with love rather than get bogged down with all that has to be done! Merry Christmas Jesus!