Obviously, Christmas has been on my mind. And on my television. And in my news feed. It’s everywhere I look, and that’s awesome and fun. But this being me, I can’t just let it pass without thought. So I figured I’d share my reflections this year on the holiday…and how we recognize it.
First up, I’d like to shake my head at all the kids’ shows where they have to “save” Christmas. Where someone is threatening to ruin it or steal it or destroy it somehow or another. It was cute in the Grinch, because he then realizes that Christmas is something more. But I would like to posit this to all movie and TV show makers: you cannot steal Christmas. You cannot destroy it. You cannot ruin it. Christmas is not about anything we do. Christmas is about a miracle from God to man. And just like no villain can take it away, no hero can restore it. Because it’s not about us.
Which leads me to observations not aimed at the television. 😉 We also cannot have Christmas. I know that we’re thinking with generous hearts when we say we want that unfortunate family to still be able to have Christmas, so we help them out. But that’s been niggling at me too. Don’t get me wrong–I think it’s awesome to help out a family down on their luck. I think it’s wonderful to give gifts to kids, especially, who may never have gotten much before.
But “having” Christmas isn’t about what’s under the tree. We know this, intellectually. But it’s still the way we think, isn’t it?
We think of Christmas as something to experience. Something that involves all these traditions, all this pomp, all these things–sparkly things and lit-up things, expensive things and cheap things. Christmas is an event, played out each year with the help of retailers and marketing executives.
What would happen, I wonder, if one year we had no gifts? Would Christmas not come? Would we not have it? The Whos down in Whoville knew better, but I posit that most of us wouldn’t hold hands and start singing if we discovered all our stuff had vanished.
But let’s put aside the stuff and things. Let’s give ourselves credit and say that, yes, if the things were removed, we’d still rejoice on Christmas. But…why? Because, probably, we’d say we still have our families, and that’s what matters.
This is beautiful. And anyone who knows me even a little knows how much I value my family.
But this year, thanks to my husband’s reflections at Thanksgiving, I had a new realization.
Maybe, just maybe…we’re doing something a little bit wrong
by making it about spending time with loved ones.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating not spending time with family–I think this is important! But I think it’s important all year long. Every day or week. Not just on holidays. They provide a great reason for us to get together, and the tradition of gathering to observe holy days is long-standing and not something to toss aside.
But within our hearts and minds, where are we ranking that family time in relation to Christ, to worshiping Him and standing in awe at his arrival?
If it were in the right place, would people who have lost loved ones still find this time of year so hard? Depressing? Difficult to get through?
I don’t think so. I think…and I know people are going to rail at me for saying this…I think we’ve turned our families into idols, especially this time of year. I think we value them more than we value God. Christmas has become more about who is around us than Who is in our hearts. Gathering together for a holiday is supposed to be a way of teaching the young what the day means, of reminding each other, of corporate reflection and thanksgiving–after all, corporate prayer is greater than the sum of its parts, so I daresay corporate praise is too! But the gathering-together is not supposed to be the main thing it’s about. Thanksgiving, for instance, was first and foremost supposed to be a day to thank God-–even if we’ve lost our families in the year past. How much more so Christmas?
A few years ago, we had an ice storm Christmas morning that prevented our normal brunch at my mother’s house. And yes, it got me down. I missed my family, missed spending that time together, and was watching the thermometer, waiting for it to rise above 32 and melt that ice.
Now I wonder…what should I have been doing that day to make it special, even without all my family? How can I keep my eyes on Him, even if I’m alone (I wasn’t even alone that day, still had hubby and kiddos)?
I love, love, love my family. But I ought to love, love, love, love God even more. Spending time with them is important. But spending time with Him is even more important. So here’s my challenge to myself and anyone else who wants to join in.
This year, I will take time only for Him on Christmas. This year, I will stop and rethink my thoughts to make sure that I’m paying more attention to Him than to gifts and cookies and lights and decorations…and family.
This year, Christmas will not be about presents. It will not be about anything I can “have.” It will not even be about those people I love so much.
Christmas will be about Christ.
So if we were each absolutely alone this year on December 25…how would we worship Him? And how can we bring that into our busy day?