Okay, I admit it, I am not sure whether I like Christmas or not. I like the Christ child and I have been to mass and found it quite meaningful, but there is so much more that has become attached to this celebration. The original Christ-mass has become a whirlwind of parties and consumerism and eating and a season of a thousand things to do and expectations to buy gifts and send cards and bake cookies and decorate your house and wear red sparkly things and be incredibly excited and happy in the middle of it all.
Every November I think...I will just give some money to poor people in Africa that need a goat or a chicken more than any of us need another electronic gadget or DVD and explain to my family that's the way it is this year. If I never sent out a Christmas card, would anyone cry over the lack? If I neglected to make a big feast or did not bake the famous sugar cookies, would any one's health suffer? If I never attended a single Christmas concert or party, would that be so bad?
Now before you start to search for a therapist that I can go see, let me assure you that most of the presents are already sitting in my office, waiting to be wrapped, and the Christmas cards are ready to be signed and mailed. I don't actually begrudge the activities, I realise, for I enjoy being generous and creative with my resources. I do, however, dislike the stress, the expectations, the deadlines, everything having to happen within a few select days, and most of all, the increased busyness at a time when contemplation would be more appropriate.
The good thing about this is that I do re-evaluate my attitudes and motives behind my Christmas activities every year. If expectations or tradition ever replace or overrule true compassion and generosity and caring in what I do, I will stop. It is not worth it. I would rather disappoint a few people than become a person driven by ungodly, impure, mixed motives.
The birth of a baby in a dirty barn at an inconvenient place and time disappointed many who were looking for something a little more sparkly and exciting and grand. A genuine king, no matter how unimpressive, is still the real thing. Don't settle for anything less than the real thing this December 25.
This is a picture I took while hanging out with the Hamms around the wood stove drinking apple cider, telling funny stories, and thinking deep thoughts in December 2006.