When I was a teenager, Christmas for me started in October. I wrote lists of ideas for handmade gifts to make for each of my 4 siblings and my parents. I started hand-making little toy trains, doll clothes, and artwork to give as Christmas presents. I created detailed advent calendars, and one year I even made a clay version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I listened to Handel’s Messiah for hours as I painstakingly made gifts. I decorated my room and baked Christmas treats. It was a magical time filled with all the nostalgia you would expect from such a momentous holiday.
And then, one year, it wasn’t.
Suddenly the magic disappeared. I stopped having time, or money, or creative ideas. My siblings were older and I couldn’t make things they appreciated anymore. I remember going to the mall to buy gifts one year, a few weeks before Christmas, and coming home empty-handed and completely frazzled. All the warm fuzzies of the holidays were gone.
I don’t know if this happens to most people: That transition from childhood wonderment at the holidays to seeing it as an obligation to keep the moments merry and bright. Maybe it’s just me.
I actually started to really dislike Christmas. I felt guilty for spending money on things that nobody really needed. I started to feel like it was a consumer holiday thinly veiled in “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. I hated Santa who represents an imaginary greed-satisfier. I know, I’m a real Scrooge.
And I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered. Admittedly, I love Christmas decorations, sparkly lights, caramel popcorn and homemade fudge, and select Christmas songs. But I have a hard time really associating those things with what Christmas is actually about. There’s something greater at stake here. It starts with a baby in a manger and ends with a man on a cross.
The God of the universe manifesting himself in human form to be one of us. The world groaned with longing for a Savior, not just from the oppressive Romans but from their own sin. Jesus. Come to earth to “live the life we should have lived and die the death we should have died” (to quote Tim Keller).
And the world still aches for the fulfillment of the promise. That one day all things will be made right. We live in a continuing advent. A waiting.
“We live between two mighty events — that of His incarnation,
death, and resurrection, and that of His ultimate appearing and
the glorification of those He died to save. This is the interim time
for the saints — but it is not a vacuum. He has given us much to
do, and He asks for our faithfulness.” – A.W. Tozer
This Christmas, instead of worrying about having all the outward Christmas traditions, let the expectations go and take time to meditate more on what Christmas is really about. It’s not about giving the perfect gifts, making the best meals, spending hours on the most extravagant decorations, or any of the family activities. It’s about the continuation of a story that started in Genesis and ends with Jesus coming again. Christmas will never be enough because it points to the cross and the advent of Jesus’ final entrance into the world. When all the cookies are eaten, the Christmas tree dies, the new toys are forgotten, The best gift will still be there. Jesus.
I’m about 10 days late, but I made one last Advent calendar to share with you guys. Access the advent calendar printable here and print the two pages on cardstock, cut around three sides of each door with an exacto knife, glue around the doors and edges and put the two pages together. Count the days to Jesus birthday by opening each corresponding door.
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