I love Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year.
In my old life, the Christmas season started for me on November 1 and the next seven weeks until Christmas were bliss. I would stop listening to all non-Christmas music, pull out my Christmas CDs and listen to them repeatedly in my car, in my house and while I worked. I would stop watching all non-Christmas shows and movies and order eight weeks of Hallmark channel and ABC Family, watching those and nothing else. I would start wearing Christmas-themed pins on my collar or lapel. I would start thinking about gifts that I believed the people in my life would love to receive and start ordering online, chasing them down wherever I had to so that I could see their delight when they opened them. I would make the important decision of whether that year’s gifts would be given wrapped gaily in Christmas paper and ribbon or tucked away in Christmas gift bags. I would start trying to inveigle my mom – who swore up and down every year that she wasn’t baking – to make me at least three large Christmas cakes, one for me to devour at home and the others to share with house guests and at work.
The one Christmassy thing I didn’t do was decorate my house. Other than a beautiful wreath on my front door (or two wreaths on my double front doors when I moved on up), I skipped that part altogether. That part never seemed important to me.
The thing is, in all of my years of running around and just feeling plain old good at Christmas time, I missed the entire point of the season. When my life changed, I hit pause on my Christmas immersion activities except watching Christmas movies. Even last year when I was in Indonesia, November 1 barely rolled around before I started watching Hallmark movies online.
This year, the entire month of November came and went with not a Christmas jingle from me. And I’m still not jingling yet. I wondered at first if maybe I was too busy with work and life to get swept up in the thought of the season the way I used to do. However, that seemed unlikely since I used to juggle many more responsibilities and still managed to be all about Christmas at the same time. I find that I’ve eased off listening to a Christian radio station I usually play when I’m getting ready in the mornings because they’ve been popping in Christmas carols and I’m not ready to hear them. Also, I usually watch a movie online about once per week but over the past month, I deliberately haven’t watched any of the available Christmas movies because I’ve had no desire to do so. When I imagine my Christmas this year, I can see myself binge watching Christmas movies all day on at least one of my days off during our Christmas and New Year’s break, but not before.
Clearly, something deeper is at work. I continued to think. What was it that used to make me love Christmas to the point of officially launching my season on November 1?
I think the thing I used to love was the seeming unselfishness of it all. Even in the commercialisation of Christmas, with many of us running amok with our credit cards online and in stores, people seemed to be focussed on trying to make others happy. To me, most people seemed more generous and kinder during the Christmas season and that made me feel really good and want to be a part of it. Also, since my love language used to be gifts, Christmas was a natural outlet for me.
However, my personal encounters with God these past three years have changed me enough that those things don’t matter to me as much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still like the thought that people seem less selfish at Christmas time, but what’s the point of that if I don’t get that it should all revolve around Jesus?
And that’s what I’m focussed on this year. I’ve seen God’s hand at work in my life and received His grace and mercy as He’s poured it out on me these last few years. I ponder in awe the fact that His heart was so broken over me that He caused Jesus to be born, to live and to experience human trials, to die and be resurrected, all in order to spare me an eternity of suffering! I ponder that Jesus loved me so much that He allowed Himself to go through all of that when He didn’t have to. I ponder that He knew I would need unceasing daily help so He imparted His Holy Spirit to me to help guide me every day and help me be a better person by burning the impurities from my heart. I consider all of that and people’s seemingly less selfish ways at Christmas means nothing to me anymore, not really.
I believe that, at some point in the future when I’m building a family, my outward Christmas spirit will return. I’ll get into decorations and gift-giving and carols and Christmas movies again. I’ll deck my house with Christmas finery and establish Christmas traditions that will hopefully be long-lasting. Because, the fact is, I truly do love Christmas and it really is my favourite time of the year. But I pray that I never lose sight of my Saviour’s inconceivably huge love for me that brought this all about in the first place.
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 (NASB)