Putting the Sacred Back in December (Are You Overwhelmed with To To Lists? Maybe It's Time to Stop)
There's a standard question that everyone asks at this time of year: "Are you ready for Christmas?" I don't think I've ever once answered that question with a "Yes!"
I am guilty of never being quite ready, starting too late (always after Thanksgiving), and the time never fails to overtake me. Do you ever feel like this, especially this time of year?
Last time someone asked me if I was ready for Christmas (one of my friends), I thought about my knee-jerk response: "No! Ha Ha! Is anyone ever really ready?" (Usually spoken with a bit of mania.) And suddenly I felt really bad. Like guilty. Not because I wasn't ready. But because what I had been thinking about (all the THINGS to do) was not what I should have been thinking about when answering that question. It just hit me. DOH!
Like most others, my miles-long list includes buying gifts, baking to be done, Christmas parties to attend, clothes to purchase, company to be ready for....the lists of things go on and on...and on. SO much to prepare and SO much still be be done. Every year it's an impossible task. Truly impossible.
But wait! As I reflected more deeply than usual at what SHOULD be the meaning behind that simple question, I realized that I AM ready for Christmas. At least...almost.
Think about Jesus' birth---THAT's why we celebrate this time of year. Well, at least many of us do. In recent years, though, it seems that as an ever-more commercialized society, we have lost sight of what it's all about. Gosh. Some people just go through the crazy partying and gift giving and don't have a clue about the real reason for this time of year.
How does one get that sense of sacred back? That was the question on my mind, after I realized the ridiculousness of my manic answer to my friend's simple question. Especially when, during this month of the year, the stress and pressure to "perform"...at parties, at gift exchanges, at other events that are really kind of meaningless in comparison to the REAL.
You know, December is such a marvelous month. There is a sense of urgency, a lovely fullness, all the glittery lights, that excitement of the anticipation of Christmas Day.... And although getting my To Do list squared away will help me get ready for the actual DAY, it sure doesn't do anything to get my heart ready. In fact, for me, all the STUFF to do takes away from the heart part.
Think About the First Advent
God had been promising the world a Savior for thousands of years! We know that prophet after prophet after prophet had shared details of His birth, and the world waited with anticipation, hope, and imminent joy.
So, when the Savior was actually born, in that busy over-crowded city of Bethlehem, pretty much everyone missed the birth of Jesus! As everyone rushed about their lives, trying to follow the law of the land in this bustling town, our Lord was born...and all but a few were unaware. In a little stable in a manger, Jesus' birth was missed by all but a very few!
So, when I think about that question, "Are you ready for Christmas?" I've got to remind myself to stop the knee-jerk stress-related response because I'm thinking about my crazy To Do lists.
The danger in our commercial December world these days is that we will completely MISS the sacredness of the reason behind why we have this celebration every year: The amazing beautiful birth of Jesus. Our God's best gift to mankind.
Can You Stop for a Moment?
Speaking for myself, I know I need to stop. I need to find time to remember with AWE and WONDER the time of Jesus' birth and what that gift means for all of us. Daily!
I need to remember to pause each day of this month and take the time to remember. And be grateful. To be calm. And peaceful. To be joyful for the right reason!
Jesus, our God, came to us as a helpless newborn, to save and redeem us. How amazing is that? How incredible? How awe-inspiring? And our God in human form has given us SO much. I NEED to stop rushing (and caring so much about stuff that doesn't truly matter) so I can be astonished again by the love He has for us.
Stop and think and remember! Here is our Lord, the One and Only, who came to our world. A world that overlooked His birth, refused His gift, betrayed His healing love, despised His acts of goodness....and STILL. Jesus chose the cross. I just find that so incredible. That He loves us SO much.
I think every single December it's tragic that Jesus' birth is so overlooked or put into second place by so many. We can miss Him, if we are not careful! For myself, I know that propensity is there---to miss out, except for little glimpses on Sunday and Christmas Eve. And all because I'm busy rushing around doing "important" things.
I want to choose to view the whole month of December and every single little act I do, through the viewpoint of one who remembers. Adores. And feels joy for the right reasons. December is a month where often we have to very purposefully make the time for His word. To pray and meditate with more intention.
Advent is a time of waiting for Christ's birth, but it is more than that. It's a time to come TO Him. To remember to rejoice that God loved us so much that He sent His son, our Savior, to redeem all of us if we just but ask.
Final Thoughts on Remembering What's Important in December
This is sure not my typical post. But I find myself, every single December, almost disliking the whole month. I do not feel joy when I see all the Christmas products jamming the shelves as early nowadays as September. I do not feel joy when it seems the stresses of this month overtake all the good parts, making the fellowshipping with people just seem too hard.
I don't feel joy when I have to choose between the stress of debt or the stress of giving a gift to every single person who seems to require one from me--even if they don't really care. I know these feelings seem bad. Well, at least I feel REALLY bad having them. Then I remember I choose how I feel. I choose. And I will choose differently right now.
Truly. I have made a decision to let all that surface stuff fall away this year. Not that I'm not going to at least make attempts. But this year....I refuse to allow the stress of our commercial Christmas time to overcome what it's REALLY about: A sacred time of remembrance and celebration of the birth of our Savior.
This year, I have intentionally blocked out time every day for a special prayer of thanks. To remember the right thing. To feel that joy, gratitude, hope, and adoration that I should have all the time, but especially at this time of year.
When someone asks me this year if I'm ready for Christmas? I am going to say a big, YES!
What about you? How do you feel about December? I'd love to know! Share in the comments!
Hugs, Light, and Self-Reliance,
P.S. I recently made a new blogging friend. I am so impressed with her. Her name is Lisa Appelo, and she has some wonderful Christian insights to share. She's written a book, Countdown to Christmas, which is designed to bring the real Christmas story to light for the whole family. It's a new way of looking at this time of year. It's an easy, hands-on devotional around the Nativity. I hope you'll take a look at it.
P.P.S. And...I hope you'll sign up for our Newsletter! We're developing quite a great community of like-minded people interested in natural health and traditional living. Join us! You'll get some gifts too!