Christmas is a wonderful time of the year. It is also a trying, brutal string of expectations that we often do not and can not meet. Over 37 years of marriage, extended family drama and heartache deep enough to bury me alive, I’ve learned many things about what Christmas can and should be, both for myself and my family. I trust that these simple reminders might be of encouragement to you as we are but 2 weeks away from the big day.
- There are only two expectations that you should place on yourself over this season. One of them is to keep your expectations under control. If you listen to every Christmas song, other than Blue Christmas and The Christmas Shoes (I hate that song), you might be tempted to give in and truly start believing the lyrics of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Remember those lyrics? “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Let your heart be light From now on, our troubles will be out of sight Have yourself a merry little Christmas, Make the Yule-tide gay, From now on, our troubles will be miles away.”
Was the writer of that song smoking the hymnal? Those problems still exist on December 26, but when put in perspective, you can truly meet and exceed your expectations. How you say? It’s this simple. Don’t try and recreate what Christmas was like as a kid, or carry an impossible childhood expectation. The world, including this season changes. Set your heart on generosity and peace and you’ll really have a merry little Christmas!
The other expectation is to settle in your soul that Christmas came for you, to receive the Christ of Christmas is the greatest expectation of all time. Fill your season with Emmanuel, God with us.
- Open your eyes and your heart to see needs that the Divine has placed in your path. Once you allow yourself to see folks that you can bless or encourage, do it! There will be folks that hustle you, but most will bless you. The single greatest gift that has ever been given was born in a stable and laid in a feed trough. Allow that gift to direct your heart (and your family’s heart) to live this Christmas with an open hand.
Give the perfect gifts. They always include an experience and rarely a tangible package. The things that I remember most fondly of Christmases past, were the times spent doing fun and out of the ordinary activities. I remember fires in the fireplace, my family gathered in one room and so much laughter. I don’t remember many gifts that have been given to me, but the ones that I do remember were so unique to me, that I still have them. But the experiences far outweigh the presents. Choose to take a few minutes and map out a few experiences. Just as one more incentive for you to seek out a Christmas experience, I truly do not remember gifts that my Grandfather, Charlie Allen gave me, but I remember sitting in his lap as he read Luke’s account of the Christmas story. I remember him always giving more than he received, and I remember him always helping my Grandmother, Jesse clean up after presents and breakfast.
There are hundreds of lessons that I’ve learned about celebrating Christmas that I think I’ll share a few more tomorrow.