I was thinking this morning about how much I always dread the Christmas season. I have been trying to figure out why that is. There are many things about Christmas that I love. I love the beautiful lights. I love getting together with friends and family. I love baking and making special treats that I only make at Christmas time. I love sending and receiving Christmas letters because it reconnects me with friends and helps me recall fond memories of our times together. I love the music of Christmas. I love remembering Jesus--the true meaning of Christmas and what he did for us.
I guess as I think about it the thing that makes me dread Christmas is the focus that has become so ingrained in the U.S. way of celebrating--shopping.
It seems I have so many expectations of how I want Christmas to be celebrated--times when families get together, making memories and having fun, times of treasuring one another, of singing carols and reading the Christmas story, but somehow all of that seems to be pre-empted by the incessant need to shop. I don't know if it is just how I perceive Christmas, or if others feel the same way, but instead of celebrating and enjoying the things I love about Christmas I get caught up in trying to find the ultimate gift that will make someone "happy." I begin to question "Did I buy the right gifts?" or "Did I do enough?" or "Did I forget somebody?" or even "Did I get what I wanted for Christmas?"
Even before Thanksgiving, as the Christmas decorations appear in the stores, I begin to feel anxious, knowing I will be spending much time in the next 6 weeks thinking about shopping, dreading shopping, shopping, making sure I haven't forgotten anyone, spending money that could be given to help those in need instead of buying gifts for people who already have more than they need, and feeling as if it is expected I get them something anyway. I want to return to celebrating Jesus!
I am often asked what I want for Christmas by friends and family. I guess I need to be telling them what I really want. I want to return to the joy that is supposed to be felt at Christmas--remember--Joy to the World, The Lord Is Come! Maybe instead of trying to find the perfect gift to buy for one another, we could instead spend time together, loving one another, and helping each other to find ways to put Christ back into Christmas. That seems like a perfect Christmas gift to me!