Christmas and Thanksgiving mark the beginning of a holiday season supposedly centered on selflessness, contentment, and service.
However, this season often does not “feel” particularly happy or religious. In fact, with Black Friday hordes, Christmas to do lists, and advertisements of perfectly primped and styled families, it all feels very pressured, backwards, and stressful. I know that’s not how I want to feel. Nor is it how I want to act. So this year, as I look forward to holidays, I am making my own wishlist with a personal agenda.
What do I want for Christmas?
Time over Gifts
When I look back over the years, I don’t think, “Wow! What a great Christmas–that was when my grandma got me these shoes that were the very latest fad!” I think back on times when my family spent time with me. Basketball games played with cousins, hymns sung as we all crowded into the living room, sharing and passing and laughing at an overcrowded table.
These are those precious moments, those things that you store up in your heart.
It is a blessing to receive and to give gifts. But one gift doesn’t cost anything and means so much–the gift of your time. This year, I want to give that gift to my family.
Sometimes we get the idea that just because an activity is a “good” activity, we should do it. Well, I am only one person. And I’m pregnant and a mom and a wife…the list goes on. I can only do so much. Doing fewer things and doing them well not only helps me to be less hectic (my family will thank me later for not being so snippy and grumpy!). It also helps me to actually be present and enjoy the activities we choose to do. Less truly is more: more patience, more attention, more grace.
The Strength of Will to Focus on the Godly
There are many wonderful things about Christmas. For instance, there is no other time in the year when even the lost and the worldly are thinking about Jesus! What a great opportunity, not just to share goodwill and gifts, but to share the best gift ever given: the story of the Christ, His cross, and the salvation it brought.
Yet somehow, it is easy to “fudge” our focus. To be distracted by the hubbub, the travel, the rush of the holiday season.
It’s easy to say to myself that I’m still doing good things. That what I am doing still “counts.” Dashing around to six different stores to buy presents, filling gift sacks and stuffing fruit baskets for the elderly, signing and addressing envelopes to loved ones and friends–they can all be good things.
But they may not be the necessary things. In the craziness that is our lives, I think it is especially important that we be a Mary and not a Martha. We need to realize that the “better part” is to pause and take our gaze upward: to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. It may mean saying “no” to some things or losing sleep some mornings. It may mean giving up on having the “perfect” house or the “perfect” schedule. But, as we gaze upwards at the cross, at the face of our Father, we will find not only peace for our hearts but wisdom for our actions.
And we will find that everything is better after looking at Him.