So on a clear, cold night this weekend I wandered into a high-end garden store in search of the perfect Christmas moment. And Jim (who needed no such moment) came along because that’s how much he loves me.
Envisaged moment included steaming mug of hot chocolate sipped over deep conversation at rustic table surrounded by sparkling white lights. I sense the Christmas spirit smiling as I type that.
Hot chocolate creating warmth and togetherness; rustic table providing history and earthiness, and white lights of course bringing the romance. Right? Come on people, right!?
Well, it was too crowded to get the hot chocolate. Instead I paged through a book on how to arrange an organic feast on the forest floor. Handy.
The perfect Christmas moment eluded me. It was okay though–I knew I was a faker. The stuff around me wasn’t really old, just made to look that way. The $60 rusty watering cans were for display, not use. And I, worst of all, was hiding a nasty sweatshirt beneath my white coat and festive scarf. Imposter!
Beware, normal person, the elusive Christmas “spirit” and the pressure to seize it. Beware the Gap adds, the coffee commercials, and the flawless holiday portraits–not because they’re evil but because they’re not the point.
Maybe you hang ornaments made of plastic rather than fairy-spun moss. Maybe you walk holding the arm of an aging parent rather than the spouse you long for. Maybe you have a kid who’s just challenging. Maybe your family devotions contain more interruption than inspiration.
The Christmas spirit may be aghast, but the Holy Spirit smiles.
The best Christmas moments happen when we look around at our sometimes messy, sometimes broken lives and realize in awe that Jesus came to redeem it all. Cue the music. Plug in the lights. Hug the kid who’s too cool to hug you back. You’ve found it.
I love the Christmas season and plan to embrace it (overpriced hot chocolate and all) so I need Psalm 16:11 to remind me that snowy branches and sparkly trees are empty without the real source of joy:
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
It’s God’s presence that brings fullness of joy. Being with him will make me happier than all the white lights in the world. So this December, let’s make it our goal to spend time in his presence. A few simple ideas:
- Read “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Nancy Guthrie. It’s a series of Christmas readings that will keep your heart tuned to Christ.
- Start your day reading the Bible instead of checking your phone for anything. Try focusing on the incarnation narratives in the gospels or Isaiah 9.
- Listen to Christ-centered Christmas music and not just “It’s a Marshmallow World.”
- Spend some time in prayer as a family or household thanking God for his incredible gift.
Forgetful soul, don’t sacrifice the Holy Spirit for the Christmas spirit. Seek him first.