My husband and I have been talking about what it would mean for us to downsize Christmas. We aren’t unique. It seems like there are a lot of voices advocating for this lately. And for good reason. The day that is meant for celebrating the birth of our Savior has been hijacked.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by four or more sets of parents, stepparents, grandparents and in-laws expecting “quality time” in one day.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by gift-giving. And by gift-giving, I mean parking lot wars, Black Friday mobs, must-have toys, and credit-card debt.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by Pinterest. There are too many talented people with too many good ideas pinning their hearts out. I’m starting to feel that if my house doesn’t look like Pottery Barn and my cookies don’t look like the Cysteine Chapel ceiling, I’ve failed at Christmas.
For some of us, it has been hijacked by Santa Clause. We want so badly to see our children full of wonder and excitement on this special day. And they want so badly to get stuff. Our culture tells them that a truckload of presents under the Christmas tree is their birthright.
It’s one thing to know our Christmas has been hijacked. It’s another thing all together to stare down the lies and the fears that keep us running on this treadmill. For me, the closer we get to the “big day,” the more I am attacked by anxiety as I count the cost of making a change. Will my kids be disappointed? Will my [fill in the blank] feel unloved if I don’t lavish her with presents? Will loved ones be sad or angry if I’m not at every family gathering?
I think it boils down to this—I have been concentrating on what I DON’T want Christmas to be. I can’t expect to get rid of all the stuff and busyness and not fill that space with something else, something better. Then I’m just left with a big hole.
I love Advent Conspiracy because it focuses on what Christmas should be. It equips us to “fill the hole.” They put it this way, “It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating.”
I want my Christmas to glorify God. I want my Christmas to honor the poor. I want my Christmas to cause anyone watching my life to want to know the One that anchors me.
And there is no easy three-step program for that. Even awesome movements like Advent Conspiracy are just a new way to stress-out this Christmas if I turn them into something to accomplish in my own strength.
Following Jesus on Christmas is really not that different than following Him every other day of the year. It has to start with giving Him my heart, confessing my failure, and asking for help. For me, it starts with this prayer:
Dear Jesus, I want Christmas to be about you. You know everything that stands in the way of that. You know that pleasing and serving people I can see is easier than giving you everything. You know my addictions to approval and comfort. Forgive me. Change me. You abandoned yourself completely when you chose to become a fetus, a baby, a toddler, a tween, a man, a sacrifice. Help me to abandon myself and my own agenda to you. Please be glorified in my family and me. Please cover us in your grace.
If you are even slightly troubled about Christmas, I invite you to join me in asking our Savior to have His way with us. I also encourage you to stay tuned to the blog. On December 11, you’ll get to read about the amazing Christmas adventures of someone much farther along this journey than I am.Image courtesy of Serge Melki /Flickr.com