Jingle bells that kids can’t stop ringing, A talking snowman, a reindeer with a birth defect, and an overweight man with unrealistic expectations of the structural integrity of an average chimney breaking and entering so he can put toys in large socks.
Christmas is here!! Or almost here…anyway it’s that time of year when it seems stress is at its highest. All the people who we never see any other time of the year get mortally offended if we can’t come to their party. Everyone is doing a gift exchange so even though it’s a $10 limit, when you have 4-5 of these things to go to, that becomes a large chunk out of your budget. Wait budget? What’s that?! I just charge everything to my credit card and wait with anxiety to see the bill in January. And thanks to the wonderful commercials on tv, the kids know about every toy ever made. They are all SO important and their little reputations will be ruined if they don’t have every single toy on Christmas Day, which means by Christmas afternoon you are thigh deep in gift wrap wondering how your life got so out of control.
I don’t know about you but I had a mild anxiety attack just writing all of that. While it’s true that this time of year can be nuts, it doesn’t have to be. Something I’ve learned this year is how to say no. I mean, I know how to use the word, I’m pretty sure that it’s a word most toddlers pick up on rather quickly and enjoy telling their parents. But I mean I actually learned how to use it to save my sanity. I wouldn’t classify myself as a people pleaser for the most part, but being involved in so many departments and groups in our church means lots of Christmas parties. In my head I know it’s ok to not attend them all but in my heart I felt ungrateful if I didn’t attend. People went out of their way to do things for me and include me so for that I am SO thankful! I told them so…but I also told them I couldn’t go. Sometimes you just have to deal with the feelings of guilt and know you made the right choice. In the past I said yes to everyone and every party and volunteered for every thing…and got really sick because I wore myself out. I learned from that mistake because “ain’t nobody got time for that.”
Speaking of saying no, let’s talk about those gifts. The kids really don’t need every toy that the store carries. Really! We only have one living child so this time of year I find myself constantly wanting to buy my daughter another thing. Just one more. She really wants it and she’s been good…just one more…but God doesn’t want us to focus on things. Jesus may not have actually been born on December 25th but we celebrate his birth none the less because that’s the ultimate gift. God sending his son to take the weight of our bad choices and poor ability to follow the instructions He gave us, our sins, so we could have a relationship with Him. The magnitude of this gift is staggering and honestly it’s the only gift that matters. We try to keep the focus on Jesus in our house with a little sprinkle of Santa just for fun but I’ve come to a realization this year. Just yesterday actually. There is beauty in simplicity.
I wondered why our budget gets so small in December. Why do we have to cross people off our gift list because we can’t afford to buy any more gifts? Why is this such a lean time of year for us? Then God answered me so gently. He said “I want you to appreciate the beauty in the simplicity.” That may seem pretty obscure but seriously think about it! Jesus was born in the simplest of circumstances. No fuss or parade for the new king…just some animals wondering why a lady was laying on their hay screaming and then a small thing in their manger who cried every few hours because it was hungry. When you don’t have a lot of money to buy people gifts it causes you to get creative. Maybe you have a talent you can share with them. A few years ago I made everyone a loaf of bread and gave them that along with a jar of homemade jam. The year before that I made everyone scarves. No matter what you do or don’t give someone, when you take the money out of the equation you are forced to appreciate them for who they are. Spending time with my family and eating good food is my favorite part, and I think that’s the point.
God wants you to love people every day of the year but on Christmas, loving people is the best gift you can give. After all it was the original Christmas gift…God loving us enough to give us His son. If you are a millennial you can call it a “vintage” Christmas. So put the credit cards away and just love on people. I promise you that once you see the beauty in the simplicity, none of that other stuff will matter.
Merry Christmas from my family to yours!!!