You’ve got to love the whirly, twirly craziness of the Christmas holidays.  After an opportunity to reflect on what I’m truly thankful for, I slip and slide my way into preparations for Christmas, wanting to do it all.  Big.  See that tree and that tiny hand sticking out on the side?  That’s me behind the tree, waiting for the string of lights to be passed around.  I looked at that picture and wondered how much I let those preparations hide what I really need to be seeing.

I suppose that is my great conundrum right now.  I love the Advent season–the expectant waiting for the celebration of Christ’s coming to earth.  The sights and sounds of the season, no matter what climate you live in, converge to remind us that this isn’t just another day, another opportunity to buy more than we can afford, to eat more than is healthy, to participate in every gathering and party imaginable.  It’s a time to reflect on why we even have a Christmas celebration.  Why we have carols and trees and give gifts.

It’s not about us.

But I find it is too easy to lose myself in the obvious glitter of what we’ve made Christmas to be.  I’ve never liked waiting; I find myself obsessively doing–decorating, baking, buying, partying.  Not bad things in and of themselves.  But when I focus on just that, I’ve lost sight of the forest for the trees.

Or the Christmas tree.

I want to think about why the anticipation of this great happening was so amazing for those living at the time of Christ’s birth.  Life was hard.  Conditions were deplorable.  The Jews were once again under someone else’s rule, and it wasn’t pleasant.  But the promise from God of hope hovered ever in their minds.  Hope lived.

“For to us a Child is born; to us a Son is given,and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Life is hard now.  Maybe for some of us it isn’t the fear of terrorists or war or famine.  But there is loss, grief, disappointment, pain–and all pain hurts.  But the promise from God was Someone who would address that pain and give us hope.  Hope that wouldn’t disappoint.  Hope that there is more than what I see, what I experience.  Because God made us for more than what this earth can provide.

So I want to pause and consider.  I want to think about why this time of year is truly special.  Not because of trees and candy canes and gifts.  I want to experience the reality that life changed forever on Christmas because of what God did for us.

I don’t want to get lost behind the Christmas tree.

And yet so much about this season is focused on the “doing” rather than the awe and wonder of what was done for all of us.

We got our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving–a huge family tradition, this year made even more fun by the presence of the grandkids.

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