Typically, the week after Thanksgiving I find myself pulling out bins of Christmas decorations, turning on the Christmas music, preparing to make goodies with my children, and getting presents wrapped and placed under the tree.
This year it’s a little different. Yes, the Christmas music is playing in the background, but instead of unpacking bins, I’m pulling out bins and boxes to pack up our belongings as we prepare to move in 2 weeks.
I guess you could say we’re ‘un-decking the halls’.
It’s funny all the things that make it feel like Christmas to me. Smells, decorations, shopping, cold weather (it’s been in the 70’s here this week), food, twinkling lights and hot chocolate. While all of this is fun and wonderful, I’ve been gently reminded this year how, if I’m not careful, those things that make it ‘feel like Christmas’ to me can cause me to forget what Christmas is all about.
I entered December with a fear that this time of year wouldn’t be as special for us because those things that make it seem like Christmas weren’t going to be happening. We have no parties to attend, I’m not planning to host anyone in our home, our only decor is a little tree on the piano and the girls’ tree in their room.
My other fear was that the stresses of packing, Christmas shopping, looking for a place to live in Virginia, and figuring out Isabella’s schooling for next semester, would tip me over the edge and I wouldn’t even enjoy the little bits of time that we would carve out for special Christmas memories.
So, I bought a book. A book for our family to enjoy during Advent that would remind each of us why it is that Christmas is important and what truly makes Christmas ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.
Every day we open up this book together and read about the wonder of God. His plan, His people, His love. Love that created us, love that reached to us in our sin, love that came to earth in the form of a tiny baby who would one day save us from our sin.
Jesus–the most wonderful gift of all time.
My children are eagerly coloring paper ornaments to hang on our teeny-tiny tree. These ornaments don’t hold the kind of meaning that all of our boxed up ones do–ones that we’ve collected over the years. The thin paper ornaments with crayon markings are telling the story of Jesus and helping to keep my mind fixed on Him in the midst of this crazy time.
We’ve talked about what we can do to help the homeless people we drive by every day. They are learning what it means to ‘lean into Jesus’ (from our Day 4 reading).
All the parties we could attend and special events that surround this year can’t match up to the truths that are sinking deep in their hearts as we read this Story of Redemption and focus our hearts and minds on what Christmas is all about.
My Mom also bought a book (we share the same book buying problem) and sent it to me this week. I’ve been reading it in the quiet of my mornings, pondering the Story on my own.
Today’s reading was about Abram–how God told him that all the families of the earth would be blessed by him. And, then there was a devotional about being a blessing. It reminded me of the series I wrote in October “Made to Pour: Living a life of Blessing”, so I wanted to share a quote with you:
“You will be experienced as a blessing–to the extent you have first experienced yourself as blessed. You must feel the fullness of your own pitcher before you trust the pouring out of yourself…Only when you are overwhelmed with the goodness of God can you overflow with the goodness of God to others” (Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift).
Oh, how incredibly blessed I am to be filled with the goodness of God! And it is out of this goodness, this gift of Jesus, that I can bless those around me. At Christmas time, and all the time, because I am full.
I had fears entering this Christmas season that it wouldn’t be special. I was wrong. It’s becoming special in a different kind of way, a way that will hopefully instill the best kinds of memories my children could ever have. And it’s special to me because in the midst of the craziness of a move, I’m re-learning the Story of God’s plan of Redemption.
It might not feel like Christmas when I’m wrapping up picture frames and dishes instead of hanging up white lights and rolling out cookie dough. So I think on the truth. Christmas is about Jesus, who is the Truth. And it’s because of Him, because of the gift of His life and death to save me, that I have a reason to celebrate Christmas.
May you be reminded and refreshed in the midst of whatever is making this time of year crazy for you–that Jesus is full of wonder and He fills us with the wonder of Him as we enjoy the gift of His presence.