One of the reasons I find this time of year "challenging" is because I struggle inside myself with what I call the "false Christmas hoopla." And, guess what? Sometimes I think the false Christmas is winning out and I feel pretty frustrated about it.
When I was growing up in a religious family we celebrated Christmas solely as the time to remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Now, granted, I grew up as a daughter of a pastor, so I know I was not in an ordinary home - my Dad had "extra work" during Advent and Christmas. There were more services, the children's program, etc. Oh - and the beautiful music! Hymns like "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Silent Night". One of my favorites has always been "Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming." The church was decorated and then lit by beautiful candlelight!
My parents never brought Santa Claus into our house. I never heard of Jolly Ole St. Nick coming down a chimney. (Don't feel sorry for me.) Token gifts were given to each other as expressions of love, and remembering that the wise men brought gifts to honor the baby king.
Christmas Eve was about going to church. As a kid I know I did it because it was what my family did...I learned from them... it was tradition. My grandparents celebrated Jesus's birth and their parents before them, and my parents...and so I learned what the real reason for Christmas was. I heard the true story read from Luke in the Bible every year.
What has happened over the years? Today the secular Christmas is everywhere! It's taken over. Santa seems to be front and center. Buying gifts has become unbelievably big business. I just saw a TV commercial for a new reality show about people "fighting" to have the best holiday lights! People get edgy this time of year (me included), wondering what to buy and what to bake, and who to invite, and how much to give. Expectations are SO high! Travel is difficult. Calendars get full.
Is it me? Or, is there a collective sigh on December 26th? Phew. We made it through another year. Maybe I feel this way because I'm an aging adult and I have watched so many Christmas celebrations come and go.
Each November I truly think to myself...THIS YEAR I'm not going to do anything but prepare to worship the Lord. I'm not going to do any of the "false Christmas" stuff. But, I don't stick to it. How can I? People would think I'm a stick in the mud, that I don't like to have fun... that I am a scrooge. Bah Humbug.
So, here it is. December 5th. 20 days to go. We are in Advent, preparing for Christmas. I'm working on being patient...being focused...finding the joyful parts. Trying my best to celebrate the Christ child.
So far, "Christ" is still in the holiday name. Will that change one day? Will it be declared politically incorrect, and offensive to others? Possibly. How many people now say "Merry Christmas" and don't even think about the origin...the Christ?
Oh yes, I'm frustrated. I'm stressed. I worry about expectations. BUT....BUT...BUT I also still have faith, and I still go on...and I celebrate. I want to be an example. I love the family time. I love the music. I love the tingles I get on Christmas Eve at church. I keep on keeping on...and I repeat over and over "It's all about the baby Jesus."
How do you celebrate?