I love Christmas time. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the parties and even the baking, shopping, wrapping, etc. Yet I add all these expectations of the season to my already full schedule causing my calendar to overflow beyond its boundaries. Every tradition celebrated holds special significance and brings the true meaning of Christmas to life. Thus it is difficult to leave anything out as I seek to recreate the memories of holidays past.
The trouble comes when we all add these seasonal tasks to our schedules which require extra time, extra money and extra energy. This can cause December to become that dreaded treadmill that begins at a manageable pace but then starts moving faster and faster until our feet can no longer keep up and we are holding onto the sides to keep from falling. Is this the way God intended us to celebrate the birth of His gift of heavenly peace?
When the early Christians celebrated Christmas, there were no Christmas cookies, parties, wrapping paper and no Christmas Trees. They put their focus on birth of Christ and the true gifts He brought into this world; love, joy and peace. It is through the centuries that we have wrapped the season with all the extra traditions and expectations. Now we are in need of books like: Simplify Your Christmas: 100 Ways to Reduce the Stress and Recapture the Joy of the Holidays by Elaine St. James or Simplify & Savor the Season: Organize and Re-energize Your Holidays! by Connie E. Sokol. Please don’t misunderstand me. I love the traditions of the season, but when they pile on my plate and create stress that impacts everyone around me; it does not feel like “the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”.
Putting out the nativity is one of those traditions that can help me focus on the true meaning of Christmas. While playing Christmas carols like Away in the Manger and Silent Night, I am reminded of the heavenly peace of the season. This gift of God’s Peace was long foretold before it even occurred, by the prophet Isaiah “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” I want to recapture that peace. So this year, my goal is to simplify many of the traditions, glean the “glitz” out of Christmas and focus on the gift of peace through Christ.
Dear Lord, Your gift of Peace through Christ is one I often overlook. You reminded your disciples about this Peace during your last meal with them. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives “. Help me to glean the glitz out of Christmas this year and seek that heavenly Peace, that only comes from the gift of the trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen