Focusing on Christ in the Christmas run-around
About this time every year I seem to start meeting myself to death. Why do I have to ring in the holiday season by attending this Christmas committee meeting, that planning event, the other essential get-together? I’m “meeting” myself coming and going.
I was scanning a newspaper for Christmas sales the other day when I ran across an ad for the Internet: 100 FREE HOURS! That’s it! That’s what I want for Christmas! Not the Internet service—just the hours. Just a little glance at my holiday calendar could send those with weaker constitutions into months of therapy. And I’m still trying to decide if I’m one of those with a weaker constitution.
The calendar is now an alphabet demolition derby in a little binder. All the letters, numbers, and symbols are running together so relentlessly it looks like I accidentally dropped the thing in the blender. Who jam-packed these calendar days with so many activities that I’ve had to start abbreviating to fit everything in those little squares? Surely it wasn’t me. The problem now is that I’m having a hard time deciphering my abbreviations. They’re pureed! What in the world did I mean when I wrote LST.D.SCL on the calendar for today? Oh my goodness—tell me that doesn’t mean it’s the last day of school before Christmas break! I was supposed to meet the kids early! One more meeting through the blender!
Add to the meeting mania the fact that I’ve got to find something fancy and delicious to take to my husband’s staff party. I’ll have to squeeze the grocery shopping for my party dish in between all the Christmas shopping. Of course, I’ve only finished one column of my five-column shopping list. And didn’t I promise to help with the props for the kids’ Christmas play? How did that sneak up on me? Does anyone know where I can find an all-night myrrh store? (Would you believe there’s absolutely no help in the Yellow Pages for that?)
I find myself scoping the calendar again. What’s even more frustrating is that I notice abbreviations for the kids’ program squeezed into the same day I have a Sunday school get-together (or SN.SCHL.GT, if you’d rather read it in Calendar-ese). How could the program be on the same day as the Sunday school party? And it’s the Sunday school get-together I planned.
Visions of sugarplums? I don’t think so. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Hardly. There hasn’t been a silent night around our place since the season began.
Where can we find one of those Norman Rockwell moments? Even if we can’t make room for a chestnut or two roasting on an open fire, it seems we should at least be able to find time for some popcorn popping in the microwave.
What do we do when our holiday gets lost in all the holiday activity? Are you doing the holiday shuffle with me, meeting yourself coming and going . . . and going . . . and going—in Energizer Bunny fashion?
If Christmas has lost some of its wonder, some of its charm, some of its blessed meaning in our hearts, maybe it would be healthy for us to steal a few minutes to sit and ponder what the season is about, how we end up so activity laden and stressed, and what we should do about it.
Why are we so mega-stressed? We’re living in the age of “mega.” We can hardly buy a fast-food meal without someone tempting us to upgrade to the super-whopping-mega size. It’s easy to start believing that to have a socially complete Christmas, we have to super-size our schedules in the same way, adding more and more activities to the packed calendar—adding more, spending more, eating more, stressing more.
Before we know it, we can be overdrawn, overweight, and overwhelmed. What’s an overachiever to overdo?
Put Down the Calendar and Slowly Step Away
The first step, surprisingly, is backward—stepping back to take a look at the big Christmas picture. Christmas isn’t just an excuse to make Grandma’s plum pudding recipe. It should stay centered on the birth of our Savior. Didn’t we just chat about how Christmas is definitely not designed to make us overworked and overwhelmed? I don’t mind saying it over again! Christmas can be a season to celebrate how we’ve been made overcomers. First John 5:5 says, “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (NKJV).
We become overcomers not because of any power we muster up in our own strength. Again, the season becomes a real celebration when we learn to rest in the faithful hands of the One who has overcome the world. Knowing he overcomes and knowing he has made us overcomers brings about that most amazing Christmas gift: peace. Look at what Jesus said in John 16:33: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (NKJV). The Lord is the One who has done the overcoming. He’s the One who gives the peace. The only thing we truly need to work for is the resting ability.
So if you’re struggling with overdoing and all the other “overs,” maybe today is the perfect day to, well . . . get over it! We can find rest in a real Christmas celebration. “Rest” and “merry” go together like turkey and dressing. Even better, they don’t make you sleepy an hour later. No sleepiness, just peacefulness. It’s no coincidence that the old Christmas carol says: “God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing you dismay / Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day. . . .”
In all the merry mayhem, it’s helpful to remember to be consistent in soaking in the message of the Christ of Christmas every day. That’s what will generate true merriment, all wrapped in peace.
I love thinking about that special delivery message brought by the angels at that first Christmas meeting: Glory to God . . . and on earth peace. You gotta love a meeting with a message of peace!
I think I’ll set my calendar aside for the day and study on the message for a while. And I think I’ll use my blender to make a smoothie.