Do you find it ironic that in the midst of a season dedicated to peace, joy, generosity, and goodwill, many people struggle with depression, despair, and hopelessness?
Why is this?
We expend so much energy to fill our holidays with bright lights, sweet treats, and rich foods. We spend so much money to purchase gifts for family and friends, knowing full well that they will more than likely forget what they received within a couple of months. We throw ourselves into the preparations for this one – maybe two – day celebration only to feel the dramatic and draining let down after the festivities are concluded.
If you noticed, the above paragraphs speak of abstract feelings while focusing on what we ACTUALLY do during the holiday rush. Not once did I mention the true intents of the season – at least, not in concrete ways.
And therein lies the real issue…
You see, it’s not that the season isn’t about peace on earth and joyful giving; it’s that we have lost those qualities to abstract dreams while bringing into concrete focus, the ideals of greed, temporary happiness, and instant gratification. We say that the reason for the season is Jesus Christ and all that He represents…in the end however, we don’t live what we preach.
Me and my family made a commitment this year to bring Jesus Christ out of the abstract woodwork and into the central focus of our holidays.
It is definitely easier to do in theory than it is to give up years of ingrained habits. And I found myself resorting to old feelings of selfishness and greed. I mean, I have rights to enjoy a little selfishness for a couple days a year – Right? I want to cling to my arcane traditions and temporary pleasures – damn the consequences after the season is over…
The morning of Christmas dawned and I was half-heartedly fighting back these thoughts. I watched as Bella opened up her two presents and Jake, his gift from me. And I read the little sheet of paper that my husband gave me – a voucher for a one hour massage whenever I wanted to redeem it.
The small portion of my spirit that actually tunes into the Spirit is saying – I will enjoy my massage far more than my husband or daughter will enjoy their store-bought gifts. Of course, the selfish part of me complained rather loudly that I deserved more than just a measly back rub in light of all the sacrifice and work I put into making this Christmas festivity great…Right?
I was still struggling as the Christmas meal wound down and in a fit of selfish pique, I left the dishes and my family for the comfort of my bed so that I could pout in relative peace. I knew that I would have to deal with the mess after I woke up, but I really couldn’t care at that point.
So imagine my surprise on waking up from a very long nap to see that my amazing husband had personally cleared up every last bit of the mess, even sweeping the floor and wiping down the counters. The food was put away and he and Bella were happily enjoying their time together (a fact that caused a twinge of guilt when I realized what my selfishness had missed out on while I napped for three hours) For my temporary pleasure, I gave up time that could have been so precious for our family.
I am tired; don’t get me wrong. This pregnancy has taken a lot of my steam out of me, and napping is a good thing for me to enjoy. But did I really need three hours? Granted, it felt good, but it made going to bed that night extremely difficult.
Watching my husband’s face as I took in the clean, sparkling kitchen, I realized that he had given me a gift so much more meaningful than the paltry little board game I got him or even the meal that I prepared. He gave out of pure joy and servant hood, while I gave with the expectation that I was going to receive something in return. Talk about making me cry…he definitely got it! This concept of service and remembering the sacrifice of Christ as he gave up his deity to become a lowly human being and show us what it means to give our all. Jake got it this year and I was left with the melancholy that comes from another year of losing the big picture.
It didn’t stay that way though…I definitely made the connection and got on the right track by God’s grace. But it is bittersweet in victory because I lost out on the chance this year to celebrate Christ’s birth with the right attitude in my heart. Next year, I can make that commitment again – and pray that I do not lose sight of it once more.
The reason we have to live in joy and peace and contentment every day and moment of our lives is because of the total surrender of God’s Son to His Father’s Will and the sacrifice that was born of that selfless, amazing surrender. This is what I will strive for…this is what it means to celebrate Christmas!