It is difficult not to be distracted this time of year. When Christmas is over, and we come back home after hopping from one gift exchange to another, I find myself relieved, and ashamed. Jarrad and I both have large families, most of whom live close by, so, this year, we had seven Christmas get-togethers in six days. Sound like a lot? It's quite overwhelming to me, and I usually look ahead to the season with mixed feelings.
You might say Rachel racked up this year. She got a lot of really awesome toys and some super cute clothes, a few books, and some video footage to prove it. I know she is young, but I wonder what it all meant to her. I wonder what it all meant to me.
Christmas is a time for family, for food, for reminiscing, for nostalgia, for gifts, and for generosity. It is? We run around trying to see our families, but why now? Why do we do this around December 25th? I buy people stuff [they probably don't need and might not even want], but why couldn't I do that in July? I don't bake cookies, but I did last week. I try to wear red & green (colors I don't usually wear together), and we drag trees from outdoors into our homes and make them colorful and flashy...why?
Does any of it point to Christmas? Tradition, yes. Ritual, certainly. But Christmas? In our seven celebrations, Jesus was scarcely mentioned. Sure, we prayed in His name, as we were taught to do. But I'm talking about JESUS. The ONE who lived in Heaven, but decided to take on the flesh of man, enter the world as a helpless baby, humbling Himself from His perfect surroundings, from the Glory beyond our universe, to live in this--our earth, filled with defiance and mockery wrought by Sin. GOD left Glory to come here??--only to become the one sacrifice able to satisfy God's sovereign justice and demonstrate His perfect love for ME?? And that is Christmas.
I know these are not the warm and fuzzy thoughts that mark our Holiday season. I know we like to pretend it's about others--whether it's finding the perfect gift or volunteering or donating cash, people do become especially generous this time of year. Is it because that's what we've always done? Or does the "generosity" that comes with this season grow each year, ever in the effort to draw the focus away from Him. It's uncomfortable to think about what Jesus did, especially when we consider that we'll have to choose what to do with Him once we acknowledge His deed.
I sit here writing, as guilty as the next, having once again fallen for the tale that this season is about family (the highlight for us this year was seeing Jarrad's little brother). It isn't about family. It isn't about giving. It is nether about being thankful, courteous, compassionate, nor humble. As wonderful and desirable as those traits are in December, they are year-round. But on December 25th, I ought celebrate the coming of the One who makes those qualities possible in me, in spite of myself. I ought celebrate Christ Jesus.