I confess. I’ve missed Christmas.
Probably not in the sense that you would assume. But in the midst of the green and red and door busters and sparkling lights, I start spinning and skim the top of the Christmas season- totally missing the reality of Jesus’ birth, of His supreme act of love and sacrifice to save me. Me.
I “do” Christmas but miss “living” Christmas in my heart.
I miss Christmas when I’m so hurried with my to-dos that I forsake sweet quiet moments listening to the excitement of my kids.
I miss Christmas when I think that going to a Christmas program is all I need to connect with Jesus.
I miss Christmas when I get sucked into buying more gifts for me than for those on my list.
I miss Christmas when I let my bitterness and sensitivities win out over a true generous connection with my family.
I miss Christmas when I believe that my lists and obligations are trophies of significance or accomplishment.
I miss Christmas. I confess. I’m wondering if you do to.
Missing Christmas isn’t just a 21st century flaw.
On that very first Christmas thousands of years ago, the people missed it. They missed the actual birth of God made flesh. They missed the Savior of the world born to a virgin in a stable. They missed Christmas. And yes, it was a very busy time for them too.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to their own town to register. Luke 2:1, 3, NIV
Lots of people. Lots of traveling. Lots of personal agendas to get to one place or another. Busy. And in the midst of all that, very pregnant Mary and Joseph traveled (with very pregnant Mart riding on a donkey- unbelievable) to Bethlehem. There the King of the world was born.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:6-7, NIV
I don’t want to be so busy, to be so scattered with the hustle and bustle that I miss Jesus.
So, what can we do? Here are 5 strategies to slow down and to treasure the gift of these green-and-red days:
Growing up, my mom would bake goodies for our neighbors and deliver them. So, I thought that’s what you do. I did it for many years, but- oh boy- it stressed me out! A couple years ago, I took a break and didn’t do anything. Instead, I prayed for them.
Am I being a bad neighbor? Maybe. Am I a more sane mother and wife? Absolutely!
Is there something that you can simplify, something that doesn’t really have to be done this year?
Just let it go. You don’t have to do it all!
Don’t mail out Christmas cards.
I love them, and I hate them. They are so fun to receive, but often a pressure to take, create, and send out. So, I resolved that it’s ok to not do them. For all the stress and time involved, I questioned if it was value-added for my family at this stage. I’ve noticed that my own mailbox hasn’t been as full as it used to be but my Facebook newsfeed greets me daily through the month of December with my darling friends and family sending Merry Christmas wishes. Last year, I cut my address list down by 75% and posted our picture on Facebook. It was liberating!
Don’t attend every party or event you are invited to.
Prioritize the festivities and parties and programs that you are invited to. You don’t have to attend them all. I know it feels like you have to and you probably want to but please evaluate. Enjoy quiet moments at home in front of the fire playing “Go Fish” with your kids. Cuddle up together as a family, pop some popcorn, and watch Christmas movies.
Give yourself permission.
One of the beautiful gifts of grief is that it gives you permission to not have it all together. It gives you permission to not say “yes” to everything. After my dad’s death this summer, I’ve pull back a significant amount. And, it’s been so refreshing.
Breathe. Sit. Relax. Enjoy. Stop.
Get some perspective.
This is so real to me- especially this year. Last Christmas, we had no idea it would be our last one with my dad. I so wish I could go back and really soak up those moments again.
I know you know what I’m talking about. Many of you have also experienced loss this year too. Unexpected loss. Heart-wrenching loss. Gut-punching diagnosis. And like me, you know in such fresh and painful ways that it won’t always be like this. Savor the relationships we’ve been given.
Mary didn’t miss the significance of that first Christmas. She was there front and center. Although she might not have understood all that it would mean, she knew she held the Son of God. It was a treasure to her.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19, NIV
Let’s treasure and ponder Christmas this year.