It's the day before the day before Christmas.
What? Well, today is December 23rd, the day before Christmas Eve.
I sit here this morning, and I am thinking how I feel right now about it. Christmas is almost here.
Each and every year in early December I vow to stop myself from getting crazy over making the holiday 'just right' and I instead purposely try to focus on the birth of the baby Jesus.
Because, you know...
There are two Christmases.
Christmas #1. This Christmas is the yearly time in the church calendar to celebrate the birth of God's son, sent to us in human form as a baby. Jesus. The one who came to show us love, and to die for us - to take on our human sins. To tell us that God forgives, with endless grace, and offers eternal life beyond this earthly world.
The time I spend in church at Christmas is my favorite part. I love to hear the reading from Luke. I love to sing beautiful carols and hymns. To see the candlelight. Hear the Christmas message. It's about that Love Came Down at Christmas. Silent Night - and then Joy to the World!
Christmas #2. The other Christmas is the secular 'holiday' and it has merit too. It brings family and friends together. It makes everyone feel closer, and we experience the gift of giving. We take time to express appreciation.
Of course, with giving gifts comes some stress - buying the right items, perhaps spending too much money, and feeling pressure to do it right. The decorations too. The food. The high expectations can lead to stress and unhappiness.
I have felt pulled every Advent season as an adult as I prepare for Christmas. I ask: What is too much? Why do we have to do it up so big? And why start so early? I worry that people will feel disappointment, and others will be left out. I feel there is too much 'everything' put on the secular part of celebrating Christmas.
It makes me sad. That's why I am often glad when it is over. I exhale. I relax.
Secular Christmas is fun too for sure - and many, many people just go into it all for the hoopla of it without putting any emphasis on the baby's birth. Santa Claus is fun! (okay, it's a childhood lie that often disappoints kids - but I won't get into all that here.) Jingle Bells and Frosty the Snowman. Now there is an Elf on a Shelf.
So, it's the day before the day before. What do you plan to do on Christmas Eve? All Christian churches everywhere hold services. Most will have a service on Christmas Day too - and this year it falls on Sunday, regular worship time. So, walk into a church. Try it. Which Christmas are you going to celebrate?
Merry Christmas to you! Keep it real.