While this year I eagerly welcomed the coolness of fall after a blistering summer that overstayed its welcome, it seems that just last weekend we celebrated Labor Day at the pool with our friends. How did we get from back-to-school to apple picking to Halloween to Thanksgiving in record time? And when did Halloween (a holiday of demons, monsters, fear and dental nightmares) manage to garner so much attention and hoopla? While every year poor Thanksgiving has to fight harder and harder just to get noticed: I feel it wanting to yell, "C'mon people! Just one day of thankfulness is all I ask. One day!"
Yet, no sooner do we push back from our collective tables stuffed with turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, than the gun sounds and we're off—rushing headlong into Christmas.
By the time my family and I got home from our Thanksgiving weekend at Grandma's I felt like I was already behind. "Only 29 days until Christmas," my inner elf proclaimed. "There's so much to do, decorate, buy, bake, wrap and make merry."
"But, I don't even 'feel' like it's Christmas." I complained.
"That doesn't matter. Time's a wasting. Get busy." He/she replied
"Wait a second!" I countered. "First of all, I don't think elves are that bossy. And second, I'm not heading down that path anymore. I learned two words in the last few years that have helped me get off the treadmill of Christmas crazy—simplify and refocus. I don't care if everyone around me is freaking and stressing out, I'm not going there!"
"Scrooge!" My inner elf accused.
You see I've finally figured out, to the depths of my being, that while the "extras" do make Christmas bright and beautiful, they're the icing on a marvelous and spectacular Christmas cake.
And the Christmas cake without a doubt is a baby. And not just any baby, THE baby.
The God of the universe, set aside His majesty and power to send his only son as a little baby. Born not in a castle to royalty, but to a teenage mom and a blue-collar worker…in a smelly barn…without fanfare or pageantry.
No matter how hard I try to understand, it doesn't make sense. And yet this happened exactly as God decided it should. His perfect plan—thousands of years in the waiting—perfectly fulfilled as God intended. In Jesus. Light of the world. Emmanuel. God with us.
Because "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17)
We make Christmas so complicated and stress-filled. Was that really God's intention when He sent His son? The words of John 3:16 remind us of how simple, yet how profoundly life-changing God's gift is.
While I have decorated for Christmas, and it's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas, when I pause to ponder the baby in a manger it's then I'm filled with awe and wonder and amazement. A little gift that changed us, changed me, forever. Christmases come and go, but the wonder of Emmanuel—God with us—is never out of season.
Two years ago Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org) and their original video totally changed my outlook on Christmas. Here's their updated version.