It is November 1st...Halloween is over. Thus begins the "official" Christmas season...right? The Christmas merchandise is already starting to filter into the stores; the shelves are just itching to rid themselves of this pesky pumpkin paraphenalia. Time to Deck our Halls and Jingle our Bells...or something like that! Is it just me, or does it make you tired just thinking about it? In recent years, I have become decidedly disillusioned with being a grown-up at Christmas time. I have been saddened by the passing thought "I can't wait until Christmas is over" even as I simultaneously reject the notion that Christmas is something I must just "survive." I have always loved Christmas and I refuse to give up on the magic of the season, but how do we, especially us moms, hold onto the magic in the midst of all the insanity that Christmas has become in our culture?
One of the solutions that I have been trying for the last few years is attempting to get most of my Christmas shopping done in November. Now, I am sure there are a few of you overachievers out there who are already 75% done with your Christmas shopping. You are probably the same people who owned jogging strollers, but I love you anyway. For the rest of us mortals, it doesn't occur to us to start Christmas shopping until the Santas start appearing on the shelves in the drugstore...actually, that 20 foot snowglobe at the grocery store since September has been something of a jolt to my memory! What is up with that? Anyway, I digress....where were we? Oh yes, Christmas shopping in November. If I set the end of November as my "date of substantial completion," I am much more likely to not go into panic mode on the last day of school in December when I realize that I have nothing to give the girls' teachers. December becomes about wrapping up those last minute details and perhaps, I know this is crazy, but perhaps even enjoying the season!! I actually love all the sparkly lights and the Christmas music, but if I am too crazed by the Christmas present hunt, I can't even enjoy them!! By the way, I just this minute received an email from my mother requesting Christmas present ideas for my girls....I rest my case!!
So, OK, we have covered the Christmas shopping dilemna...what else? Oh yes, GOD! That's right, if I remember correctly, this season is supposed to be about something other than mass consumerism. While I am sure that I will have many thoughts to share about what Christmas means to us as Christians over the next 54 days (yikes, only 54 more days!), here is what I know at a practical level. I have to make my time with God an absolute priority during the Christmas season. I am, of course, learning that I always need to make my time with God a priority, but I truly believe that it is never more important than during the Christmas season. Staying connected to God through daily prayer and quiet time is, for me, the only way I can stay connected to the true JOY of this season. When you truly think about why we celebrate Christmas, how can we be anything but overwhelmed by the message that God sent to us on that first Christmas night? According to scripture, God had been pursuing His people for thousands of years prior to that first Christmas...but on that night, He literally climbed down from His throne in heaven and came to earth to show us the incredible depth of His love. He rolled up His celestial sleeves and decided to get down and dirty in His pursuit of us...starting out in that smelly barn! We'll definitely talk more about that later...
So, can we make a deal? Can we lower the bar on the Christmas craziness? Can we forgo a few homebaked goods that we don't REALLY want to bake (or is that just me?) Can we agree to resurrect only those Christmas traditions that come from a place of joy and celebration, instead of one of duty or obligation? Can we agree to only do the things this Christmas that nurture our families, nurture our spirits and honor God? Can we make talking to God the FIRST thing on our lengthy to-do list each day; even if that means leaving some other things undone? After all, it is His birthday!! I think it would be interesting to see what our experience of Christmas would be, if we really attempted to seek Him first this season; perhaps in a way that we have not been able to do during previous Christmas seasons...anyone up for an experiment?
I would love to hear your ideas for keeping the crazy out of Christmas! Leave a comment and tell us your Christmas strategy :-)