What happened to December?
I was at work, focused on trying to organize myself, when a friend calmly asked, “Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”
The thought that flashed through my mind was, “I’ve got time.”
Until her follow-up comment reminded me, “You know it’s a week away.”
A week? I hadn’t even thought about Christmas shopping.
To be honest, I haven’t thought that much about Christmas.
It’s been a hectic month. Anytime your work is for people and with people, the unexpected can happen.
I’ve had a lot of unexpected.
It’s true that with a late Thanksgiving there was a week less to prepare. Parties and gatherings had to be done in less time. Decorating was rushed. Much of it never got done. My grand intentions of making Christmas gifts for neighbors flew out the window.
I found myself thinking, “I can do it all next year.”
That didn’t help. That reminded me of the people I was letting down. The family members that lived around the country whom I hadn’t been conscientious enough to think about things they’d really want.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for online shopping. The grands would be crushed if it weren’t for Amazon. That doesn’t feel like a thoughtful, caring alternative. Just easy.
There’s something so impersonal with the way I’m going about the whole season this year that just seems off.
I’ve been to Christmas programs, sung carols in church, attended parties that were fun with people I enjoy. I’ve made a few gifts, but not much; it wasn’t even fun. I listen to Christmas music while I’m working at home. The pieces are all there, but it really doesn’t satisfy me.
At one point I was looking forward to the day after Christmas.
When did Christmas get so busy and demanding?
Christmas didn’t. I did.
I’ve bought into the expectation of a beautifully decorated home, baked goods to give to all who come by, specially chosen presents that fit everyone’s wish list, and time to play family games and go Christmas caroling.
Christmas is anticipated globally with celebrations, gift-giving, and massive amounts of decorations. Stores go into a super-sale mode, where Black Friday has segued into Cyber Monday, all of which last for weeks on end. Ads on TV guilt people into buying what they don’t want or need but feeling the obligation to spend money they don’t have.
What we all need is a pause to reflect on why it all matters.
God sent His Son to come as Light in a dark world, to become one of us so we could walk with Him and learn about God. Straight forward and clear. In the worldly urgency to discredit the spiritual aspect of this holiday, we’ve lost sight of all the hope Jesus came to give us. We’ve tried to satisfy heart needs for love, acceptance, and forgiveness with stuff and clutter, bling and glitz.
It doesn’t work.
I need this pause to remember why I celebrate, why Christmas has always meant so much to me. To remember that God chose to enter this world so I could know Him.
No amount of decorations or shopping can improve on that.