I don’t know about you, but sometimes, the Christmas season for me can be kind of, for lack of a better word, sucky.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. It’s just the month before Christmas that’s just sometimes a bit of a hassle. I’m not trying to scrooge it up; sometimes it’s just overwhelming.
First of all, my little suburb is about the worst place to be during shopping season. We have this enormous, throbbing, diseased tumor of stores and strip malls that’s growing on our main highway. Dozens of stores stacked on top of stores, all crammed together in less than a square mile, with about 50,000 people there at any given time. It’s awful.
Not to mention, although I like giving gifts, the task of simply figuring out what to give everyone is a lot of work. I don’t like to give gift cards, because it feels like we’re just trading money. Plus, I know I’ve got four or five unused gift cards sitting around myself.
Between two families, plus friends, my wife and I have a lot of Christmas obligations. Plus, we like to throw a Christmas party. There’s food to make and cards to mail, and gifts to wrap, and trees to kill, and sweaters to wear, and decorations to decorate and eggnog to drink and places to be. It’s a lot of work.
And somewhere in there, I’m supposed to find the time for some solemn reflection on the real meaning of the holiday. Which is nearly impossible. I’m not sure why Jesus picked such a busy holiday to get born on in the first place. Seriously, if Jesus had been born on any other holiday, it would be a lot easier to reflect on his radiant little baby face. Christmas is just a really inopportune time for the Savior of mankind to want some attention.
An Inconvenient Baby
But I guess Jesus has been hassling people ever since the first Christmas. Take Mary and Joseph. They’re planning a wedding. Mary probably wasn’t too much of a bridezilla, but planning a wedding is always a huge pain. That’s reason number one to only get married once. Then that whole spontaneous pregnancy happens. And so all the hens in town are clucking about how Mary’s been messing around, and all the guys at Joseph’s carpentry shop are telling him she’s just trying to catch herself a baby daddy. Then they have to leave town for the census…on a mule. And Mary is super-preggers at this point. And right when they arrive in a tiny town, away from any comforts of home, and no real place for them to bunk up, the Son of God shows up.
I just have to think that there couldn’t have been a worse time for Mary and Joseph for Jesus to pop out than that very night. Couldn’t have waited until Boxing Day or New Year’s. Had to be Christmas.
That’s what Christmas is all about
And ever since then, right when we’re in the middle of everything, God’s been wanting our attention. Not very considerate, I know. It would be great if God could go outside and play so I can get some work done, and then we can go play catch. But God’s never made it easy, has He? He took the form of a baby that cried all through the night, making him impossible to ignore. I don’t think Mary and Joseph were singing “Silent Night.” I think Jesus cried his holy head off like any other kid.
You know, for all the flack we give our modern Christmas traditions, and as much work as it is to even carry on those traditions, maybe that’s the point of Christmas. In the midst of chaos, God is there. It’s not like my life is going to clear out next January. It’s going to be just as busy. And God’s going to want some attention, and He’s not going to want to wait until it’s convenient. Because it’s never convenient. It’s always easier to go our own way and ignore God.
In the interest of one less thing to do this week for me (and you), and a little more time for reflection, I’ll be taking the rest of the week off from the blog. I’ll see you a week from today. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and that you are near people you love, and do find time to embrace the miracle of Christmas.
What are you doing this Christmas? Do you go all out, or do you keep it simple? Tell us about the family gatherings, the shopping, everything you’re doing this week, and how you find the time to actually reflect on the meaning of the day.