Some people just love Christmas season. I can’t say I am one of those.
They love the sense of anticipation, time with family, hunting for the perfect gift for someone, cookie baking, decorating, and all the other rich family traditions that surround it. However, it isn’t that way for everyone.
As every adult knows, we begin to experience the realities of life, and we start to see things through a different lens than we did as a child. Joyful anticipation turns into panic to get everything done in time. Memories of time with family turns into reminders of lost or strained relationships. Hunting for the perfect gift becomes a dreaded trip to the crowded mall filled with impatient people. And the family traditions once loved are set aside due to the present realities of life.
The carefree days as a child – when our eyes were filled with excitement and innocence – seem long ago to those who are worn and weary from the burdens of life.
I have come to experience many of these changes myself as I’ve grown. So much of my perspective on Christmas (and life in general) has changed over the last several years. While I love seeing the joy in my grandchildren as they open a gift just as much as any other parent/grandparent, I’ve also become keenly aware of what will immediately follow. They will toss the gift aside almost as quickly as they tore it open and say, “Next one?!” All those gifts will be played with for a time and will eventually get pushed to the back of the closet.
Doesn’t this reflect our own hearts as well? So much of life is spent striving for the next thing. But not long after we receive it, our hearts begin to long for something more, something better. We see this clearly as the day of Christmas approaches. The excitement builds, the day comes and goes in a blink of an eye, and all the excitement and cheer is gone as quickly as it came.
Even as believers who know that Christmas is about the birth of our Savior, too often our time and priorities can end up reflecting very little of him. We stress and strive over gifts, parties, and decorations and sometimes get so burned out that we lose the true joy of the season: Christ was born sinless and died so that we could one day have eternal life free of sin!
Is our joy being based on that truth or are we exhausting ourselves over all the extra fluff that so easily distracts us? Are we first spending our time and energy in things that reflect that truth before running to our to-do lists? Let’s simplify this season and leave room for the joy of Christ’s birth to fill us first and foremost.