I truly love the meaning of Christmas. The true meaning is a time to pause and focus on the fact that the God of all creation stepped down from heaven and came to earth as a humble human all in order to redeem us. I love to remember that the God who spoke the universe into being came as a baby born in a stable - the place where sacrifices are born. I love to hear the story of how angels came to men and told them to not be afraid...angels must be pretty awesome. I love that wise men brought gifts that spoke volumes - gold, fit for a king; frankincense, for one who should be worshipped; and myrrh, foretelling that this precious child would die. I love that part of Christmas.
I also love part of the "secular" Christmas, particularly the movies. It's a Wonderful Life is one of my all-time favorites. There is nothing that gets me quite as excited each year as reading with my class "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Then of course, I get to watch "A Christmas Carol" - both the one with Patrick Stewart and the Muppet version. I even love making my family suffer through listening to the songs from The Muppets Christmas and A Star Wars Christmas. "What Do You Get a Wookie for Christmas" always makes me smile.
So with all this that I love, what in the world could make me shout "I hate Christmas," not once, but almost every year? It's the overload of expectations! I just can't DO it! I can't bake the cookies, buy the gifts - or MAKE them, decorate my home, create the memories, teach the TRUE story of Christmas, include the make-believe, attend the performances, travel to family(s), go to work each day, clean the house, help with school projects, and somehow not go into so much debt that I can't climb out for at least 4 months. I've tried dropping a few things off my list, but then I feel like I'm a failure - again.
Maybe it's because I'm the Mom and somehow it's my job to make Christmas amazing. How do others do it? Why can't I seem to make it happen?
On this journey to Advent, I've had moments that have been wonderful, and even some that have opened my eyes to things about the Christmas story I haven't seen before. I had hoped that by now I'd have reached that Whoville feeling of Christmas where we all stand around the tree and sing. Instead, I'm still feeling like the Grinch. I want to speak kind words and blessings on my enemies like Bob Crachit - instead I'm sounding more like Scrooge. (By the way, it's interesting that Scrooge's first name, Ebenezer, actually means "stone of help," or a reminder of God's real, Holy Presence and Divine intervention...but that's a blog for another day. )
When did Christmas become too much? When did it become a time when I feel like such a failure? When did it become a time when I realized....oh my goodness - I need a Savior?
36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
New International Version (NIV)
1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.3He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.