As we approach the holiday season, it appears that the push to get us into the festive mood and full of Christmas cheer begins earlier each year. By mid-October, retail outlets are reminding us to deck the halls and drain your wallet. We are bombarded with images of Christmas marketing resplendent with parties, gifts and merrymaking. It is easier now than ever to lose sight of the reason for the season and succumb to the expectations and pressure of trying to obtain what we are told is the ideal Christmas.
But what happens when that special guy doesn't have a beautiful diamond ring with the all important question? Or when our entire family is not all perfectly coiffed and pleasantly gathered around the dining room table? What happens when a hubby that doesn’t wrap a set of keys to our new car waiting in the driveway with a beautiful red bow?
I am reminded of the time my son Kyle was selected to portray the character of Joseph in the elementary school play.
The teacher informed the parents, that the purpose of the play was to have the children become more familiar and mindful of the birth of Christ. Since the children were only in first grade, just have the children do their best memorizing their lines and let them wear costumes made from their existing clothes. Instead, I immediately went into overdrive and made it more about the execution and less about the intention of learning about the Christmas story.
I made several photocopies of the script so that Kyle and I could rehearse his lines whenever we had a few spare moments including the commute to school and mealtimes. Of course there was even a copy in his bathroom so we could practice his lines while he was in the bathtub. I contacted a local seamstress and had a costume made so that Joseph would look completely authentic. Yes, the play went well and Kyle did an outstanding job; unfortunately I did not enjoy the performance because I was stressed and anxious with such unrealistic expectations for an elementary school play.
My focus was completely misguided and I overwhelmed myself unnecessarily.
As you are reading this, it is probably very easy to identify how absurd my behavior was for an elementary school play yet, my approach is what many of us deploy during the Christmas season:
1. Missing the message that it really is all about celebrating the birth of Christ.
2. Having unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others.
3. A misguided focus that causes unnecessary stress and anxiousness.
4. Making Christmas more about the execution and less about appreciating the intention of God sending His son to be a Savior to the world.
If we are honest, for many of us Christmas becomes a time for an overstuffed calendar and an underfunded wallet which is enough to stress and/or depress anyone.
Instead what I want for you is a Christmas that is less about the presents and more about the presence of God during this very special season.
Wishing you the gladness of Christmas which is hope, the spirit of Christmas which is peace and the heart of Christmas which is love.
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." —Isaiah 9:6