The Christmas season can be so full and busy. Stressful. In the whirl of advent and Christmas, holiday parties and shopping, the season becomes something to get through instead of to rest within.
The days go by so quickly and we are constantly checking off to do’s, running for that last minute gift and our lives are set to the timer on the oven.
How does one find rest and peace and beauty and joy that surpasses all the craziness?
I’m not sure how the rest came to be for me this season. I didn’t necessarily intend for rest. I didn’t stop all my planning and Christmas ideals to seek rest, truly, I didn’t, yet somehow rest has found me in this season. Rest has paused my heart and has made me seek Him more during these Holydays of Advent and Christmas.
I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. I overindulge in Christmas. In the past I have filled every moment with Christmas stuff. From the day after Thanksgiving to the day after New Year’s Christmas is overwhelming every aspect of our lives. From Christmas parties, to Christmas baking, to Christmas trees and shopping, Christmas encompasses our lives during these Holydays.
I decorate 4 trees in my home, plus the kids trees. I finish almost all my shopping on black Friday, I plan something fun for my kids every day in “preparing” for Christmas, we take part in reading and preparing for advent using the Jesse Tree and this year we added the Elf!! All my effort is poured into making memories and traditions at Christmas. I fill our home and our days with Christmas cheer.
I work diligently for the “perfect” Christmas.
Yet, many times in the past I have suffered the pitfalls of pursuing the perfect Christmas. As a highly idealistic and romantic person I envision in my mind what our days and our traditions will look like. What my children will remember, what they will take away from all my efforts and like much of my life I come to realize that ideals and realities grossly clash.
I envision my children sitting and listening quietly as we read from our Advent book and we engage in thoughtful, beautiful conversation as the fire flickers in their eyes. Each child shares their hopes for Christmas and they graciously take turns putting the ornament on our Jesse Tree.
Reality includes the fact that it’s too hot in Texas to have the fire on; the children keep interrupting my reading, the baby is crying because she doesn’t want to read, she wants to watch a youtube video on the ipad and no one can ever remember who put the ornament on last time and so everyone fights for their turn!
What happened to the happy hearts and angelic children where all is merry and bright, and the peace on earth and good will to all men?
Reality can zap ideals so quickly. Crazy Christmas dreams and real life can snatch the beauty of Christmas, nullify all your efforts and all the imperfections alter the beauty of Christmas.
Many Christmas Seasons, well, many seasons in general, beauty has become altered and sometimes erased by the effort of perfection.
Yet, somehow, this season, this year is different.
I still put up 4 trees and Christmas has encompassed this season and my shopping is mostly done and gifts are mostly wrapped and we are full and busy, yet there is rest.
Maybe I have matured. Maybe I have grown.
I have come to understand that when I try to implement perfection, peace tends to vanish; but when I rest and embrace the imperfection of the season, Joy settles in my heart.
My children may fight over who gets to put the ornament on the tree, they may complain about the family movie we have chosen, we may be exhausted from over full schedules and it all may be crazy, but it’s our kinda crazy and it’s messy and imperfect, but it’s a gift, given to us to enjoy and revel and laugh at and take part in by the Son of Man who came to set us free from our desire for perfection.Jesus came as a baby born in an imperfect way, to an imperfect world to set imperfect people free. If Jesus could embrace the imperfect, who am I to expect perfection?
In Him alone can I find perfection, therefore, in all that He has given me in this season and throughout the year I seek Him and find Him.
That’s the only kind of perfect I need.
The perfect Christmas is in our midst. It is in our grasp. That perfect Christmas is in every aspect of our traditions and Holydays. Holydays full of friends and family, laughter and joy, presents and His presence, peace and good will, love abiding in our hearts brought to us by a baby in a manger. Holydays made holy by a child born to die for us.
I won’t seek to make our Christmas days perfect days, instead I will seek to make them Holydays. Days filled with his presence, His love, sacrifice and Joy. Holydays made holy with our expectation of His coming.
Perhaps the key to Happy Holydays is not in our efforts to finding the perfect gifts or traditions, but in pursuing the Holy King born of a virgin in a lowly manger, wrapped in cloths, intended to live like us and for us, in order to die for us.
In this season that so many of us try to get through, a season that we try to make the best of and even perfect, I encourage you to stop trying. Let rest find you. Don’t get through the Holydays, rest in them. Make the days holy, not perfect.
Take time and sit by the fire and sweetly lit tree and whisper thank you.
Thank you for the breath of Christmas that goes by so fast.
Thank you for the tree and the presents, the lights and the traditions.
Thank you for my imperfections and ideals and thank you for reminding me that You have given me those ideals and you have perfected my imperfections.
Christmas would not be without Him, the Christ in Christmas. Seek Him, expect Him, and wait for Him just as those of so long ago waited with great expectations for our Savior.