That fifth season of the year is upon us. Before long, ovens will be baking, relatives will be descending, friends will be gifting and everyone will be rushing to get to school and church Christmas programs, office holiday parties and the mall before it closes for the night. It is, of course, my duty to remind everyone about the Reason for the Season–how we shouldn’t get caught up in all the commercial madness and, instead, focus on the Baby Jesus. But honestly, how are you supposed to do that when your youngest has to play an angel in the school play the same day that your oldest needs you to bring two dozen homemade cupcakes shaped like Santa Claus for his science club meeting and the end-of-year reports are due at work–even though it’s not yet the end of the year? And don’t forget that your pastor has asked if you can take on just one more request for a gift from a kid at the elementary school down the street or the children’s home in the next town–and by the way, are you available to pick up a member who can’t drive after dark for the Christmas Eve Service?
The truth is, despite the madness, you want to enjoy it all. The claymation Christmas specials on tv, buying gifts for kids who wouldn’t otherwise have any, checking in on our neighbors, making decadent treats we wouldn’t dream of eating year round and pausing to remember how miraculous and incredible and awesome the gift of Christ to our world was and still is.
So what should you do in order to have a meaningful Christmas this year? Take Christmas very, very seriously, and then let go.
When you take Christmas seriously, you welcome friends and family into your home with great joy and and let go of what your house looks like or how impressive the menu is.
When you take Christmas seriously, you offer gifts with great love and let go of worrying about what is in the package or how said package looks.
When you take Christmas seriously, you spend time sharing stories and laughter with the people who mean the most to you and let go of spending hours shopping and searching for the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
When you take Christmas seriously, you realize that you have more to share than you ever imagined and let go of measuring what you get in return for the gifts you offer.
When you take Christmas seriously, you extend the love and grace that God has given us through Jesus Christ and let go of petty jealousies and even deeply rooted resentments.
When you take Christmas seriously, you completely embrace your status as a beloved child of God and let go of any voices (internally or externally) that tell you otherwise.
It seems completely counterintuitive (aka just plain crazy) to try to pull off a holiday full of perfect gifts, perfect food, perfect decorations and perfect celebrations to celebrate the birth of a child who came because we are all so incredibly imperfect. Make no mistake about it–when you exhaust yourself in pursuit of the perfect holiday, it is yourself–not Christmas–that you are taking far too seriously.
Christmas is something that we should always take seriously. It’s Emmanuel. God with us! Word become Flesh! It is the game changer to end all game changers. So this year, make plans to take Christmas very, very seriously. And then let yourself go.
–Rev. Anne Russ