“How are your Christmas preparations coming?”
When I hear that question, I bite my lip. I’ve purchased most of the presents I intend to buy, but that’s only because we purposely limit the number of gifts we exchange. And even with that, I’m not done shopping.
I’ve hidden the gifts I have in what I hope is a secure location. But I haven’t even begun to think about wrapping.
We know we’ll head out soon to get our tree and visit Santa, but neither date is actually on the calendar. And the thought of taking a couple hours to do each makes the muscles in my neck tense up.
I should be chomping at the bit to begin baking multiple cookie recipes. But I actually have no desire to pull out the sugar and flour.
I have yet to hang an ornament, a garland, or a string of lights.
And Christmas cards? Since we create our own but haven’t even begun to ponder a design, let alone anything else, I don’t think they’re happening this year.
As a result of all that, I’m hardly in the “Christmas spirit.” And I’m sure I’m not alone in that boat. Our modern American expression of Christmas is such a convoluted mix of messages – celebrating consumerism and excess on the one hand and claiming to mark the humble birth of Christ on the other, not to mention the expectation that we must all be “joyful and bright” every moment of every day between Thanksgiving and December 25. It’s no wonder we sometimes struggle through the season.
I was pondering all of this recently, and the words of a familiar carol came to mind:
Joy to the world
The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room…
Of course, we can easily take such sentiments for granted precisely because the song is so well known. Or it can make us angry if we’re feeling far from joyful. But I took a moment to hone in on and personalize the last line to make it say, “Let your heart, Tina, prepare Him room.”
I can’t dismiss every cultural trapping of Christmas, and I can’t conjure up feelings of glee. But I can simplify things in my own home so I can make room in each day to spend a bit of quality time in direct fellowship with Jesus. He doesn’t expect the artificial merriment of cultural Christmas; He just wants me to choose time with Him and then trust Him to provide what I really need through this month.
If I prepare in that way, I’ll have taken the right path – even if the cookies never get baked and cards aren’t sent. And even if I don’t end up bubbling over with “holiday excitement.” After all, the only truly necessary thing – at Christmas time and always – is that I keep my heart ready for Jesus each day.