Can you remember certain Christmas experiences you had as a child, the ones that gave you the goosebumps and made you feel all warm and snuggly and excited beyond belief? Do you have some special memories or traditions with your family growing up that you try to recreate with your family?
Or maybe your Christmases weren’t all that great as a child, and you are desperate to create some memories worth having with your own children. Maybe you scroll through Facebook or Pinterest and want with all your heart to post the perfect Christmas family pictures–the ones with all the kids smiling around the perfect Christmas tree as Dad reads from Luke chapter 2.
I feel this way every year. I so want to make memories with my kids and feel the goosebumps and have a Christmas experience to remember that is 100% focused on Jesus. But somehow it seems that each year is filled with more anxiety than awe.
My family has been sick. So, I have been taking vitamins, sleeping on the couch, and desperately trying to not get sick myself. Yesterday was an all-morning doctor visit, lots of waiting in a germ-infested office, and my wondering if it would be rude to ask for a mask and gloves.
Then we spent more time waiting for prescriptions to be filled, so I thought I would tackle the grocery list while I waited. Of course, the list included foods for events that are coming and more gifts that I needed right away, but Kenneth was in the car miserable. Did I mention it POURED rain all day?
So, I hurriedly threw some essentials in the cart and raced back to the pharmacy at the time they said, only to have to wait some more. (It wasn’t their fault. They had a gazillion prescriptions to fill).
By then, my husband was texting for me to hurry, my daughter was texting for me to bring her some food, and I was feeling a ton of anxiety. Without everything on my list, I self-checked and left.
I stopped at KFC to get Bethany some comfort food and hurried home to unload the groceries, get some meds in Kenneth, and go to my desk to start working.
Only when we got home, Bethany’s order from KFC did not include the mashed potatoes and gravy she asked for. So, I unloaded the groceries and jumped back in the car to return the individual side of corn and get my baby her comfort food.
By the time I got buckled in, I was feeling the stress and frustration begin to mount. It all just felt like too much.
Does this sound familiar to anyone?
I bet it does to a young girl I wish I knew, one I would love to have coffee with and pick her brain with a thousand questions.
How long was your labor? How did you cut the cord? Did you pack those swaddling cloths before you left or find them in the cave? How long did it take for your milk to come in? Was it cold that night? Did you really put your baby in a feeding trough? Is that even sterile? Did anyone give y’all some light, blankets, anything? Did you want your mama?
Will you ever forget that night? Do you still get goosebumps? Did you feel the warmth and wonder and glory of Christmas? Did you ever think you would tell that story over and over and that you were making a wonderful, magical Christmas memory even though you were probably cold and miserable and in pain?
As I backed down the driveway yesterday, I turned the radio up and heard these words:
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”
And suddenly in that moment, the anxiety just melted away. As my voice sang out, my heart declared the desire to fall on my knees and hear the angel voices proclaiming:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”Luke 2:14, NIV
I know many people who are really sick, grieving, struggling just to keep it together right now. They are dealing with loss, heartbreak, financial difficulties, and pain. They aren’t too concerned with having a perfect holiday experience. They just want to make it through the day.
And yet many of them are at peace because they know the Prince of Peace. That’s the glory of Christmas!
Christmas isn’t about seeking perfectly memorable experiences. It’s not about Pinterest projects and to-do lists. Christmas is about the hope, peace, love, and joy that Jesus brings. It’s about Emmanuel–God with us, bringing the very presence of God into our lives so that we can know Him personally. Christmas is God coming to dwell with us so that we can forever dwell with Him.
This Christmas, instead of trying to make a magical memory, let’s bow in God’s presence and meditate on the wonder of the Word made flesh. Instead of stressing over all that needs to be done, let’s take time to reach out to someone who is hurting.
Let’s stop trying to create a warm, fuzzy experience and just be thankful that we can experience the mercy and grace of the King who has set us free. We don’t know what the future holds, but we celebrate the One who does, and in that knowledge we can have peace.
My house is still a mess, littered with used Kleenex and prescription bottles. I still don’t have everything I need for gifting and baking. But that’s okay. My Savior came into the world in a less than favorable environment to a young girl who was just willing to say yes, and that was the most magical, goosebump-making, picture-perfect moment in all of history.
“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”Luke 1:38, ESV
Let’s take a cue from Mary and just bow a knee at the manger. Because sometimes the quiet, ordinary moments can make the best memories after all.