Christmas is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. All of the decorations and festivities bring smiles to the faces of all ages. As a Christian, it marks the celebration of the birth of Christ. As Christians, Christ has to be a central part of the Christmas season. If we compare our levels of importance to the ripples created by a stone thrown in the water, Christ should be at the center and the first circle should be our family. The problem is that these two central pieces of Christ and family often take a back seat to so many other things that press in on us during this time of year.
Sometimes we recognize the things that disrupt the season, yet do very little to change. Other times we don’t even recognize how we allow the “outer rings” to supersede what is most important during this season. That is true of just about any season. I have noticed a few things that seem to be consistent for everyone. Here are three of those that commonly disrupt our Christmas season and cause us to push the important to the back of the line.
During the Christmas season, we hear words used like “hustle and bustle”. There may not be a busier season. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there is more traveling, more shopping, and more parties than during any other season. As I write this, I am on day two of five straight nights with a seasonal obligation. The busyness of the season and the attempt to get everything in causes us to lose sight of what is most important. Slowing down during Christmas will not happen by accident. You must guard your time because there is always someone standing close by wanting you to do one more thing.
What is everyone else doing? Whether we like it or not, culture puts pressure on us to conform. It pressures how we decorate, how we celebrate, and what we focus on. There is pressure to be more inclusive and talk about Jesus a little less. Some of our employers want us to say “holidays” instead of “Christmas”. We are pressed to be politically correct so we leave out the things that make Christmas what it is. We feel like our children will miss out if there is not a visit to see Santa or the elf does not come to visit. How damaged will our kids be if they do not have every experience that everyone else has? Cultural pressure has never been higher than it is today because we have access to everyone and what they are doing. Do not allow cultural trends to push out the vital elements of Christmas.
Black Friday used to be a one-day event but now it starts on Wednesday and it’s not clear when it actually ends. We now have “Cyber Monday” and “Giving Tuesday” which is turning into just as big of a commercial event as the other two. One of the most amazing things is that when we ask family and friends what they want for Christmas, no one knows what to say because we already have so much. But it does not slow us down from buying more. We spend money on gifts and parties and clothing for the parties. Our decorations get more elaborate every year. We go from one Christmas tree to three or four in every home. Businesses are constantly creating new things for us to spend our money on during this season. Then the credit card statements arrive in January and we have no idea what to do. The best advice would be not to fall prey to the trap of consumerism. Giving does not have to break us.
Don’t look back every January wishing you had made changes. It is still early in the season. Start making changes today. Keep Jesus Christ at the center of the season and allow your family to be the first circle. Cutting some of the other things loose will be painful at first, but rewarding in the end because there will be less regret and better memories. Don’t miss what is most important this Christmas.