“How are your Christmas preparations coming?”
Every time I’ve heard that question this month, I’ve cringed. I have 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 quite 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. In fact, I’ll probably do most of that on December 23.
Late last week, we finally made our annual trek to Appleton to visit the only Santa our daughters have ever known and our annual trip over to Pilsen for our tree. But the thought of scheduling a couple hours for each outing sometimes felt like a burden.
I should have begun baking multiple cookie recipes early in the month. But I’ve actually not had any desire to pull out the sugar and flour.
Until my husband hauled the tree off the car roof and into the living room on December 15, I hadn’t hung an ornament, a garland, or a string of lights.
And Christmas cards? Since we create our own but never even brainstormed a design, let alone anything else, they’re not happening this year.
As a result of all that, I’ve hardly been 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 “merry 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 most 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 Me 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 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 holiday season.
If I focus on that, I’ll have taken the right path – even if the cookies never get baked and cards really 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.
Photo Credit: vuile