The Surefire Way to Ruin Christmas
What's the best way to extinguish Christmas cheer? To think you can ruin Christmas.
"Christmas is ruined!" The elves report to Santa on my daughter's Minnie Mouse Christmas movie. At the North Pole, the presents have been ripped apart and scattered over the floor, the sleigh has broken down, and it’s the night before Christmas. After a few tears and blame shifting, the Man in the Red Suit gives an inspiring pep talk, the team doubles down their efforts, they miraculously make enough gifts, fix the sleigh, and Santa saves the day by bringing toys to all the good little girls and boys. This is the common theme in many of the Christmas shows and movies (including my favorite from the scene above, Christmas Vacation): it's up to us to make Christmas great.
We can't ruin something that's already been done.
The essence of Christmas is not in the parties and presents, but in the Person who arrived over 2000 years ago. And what’s usually said with a resigned sigh is now proclaimed with a shout of relief: we can’t change the past! We can’t mess this up because it's not about us.
The Unchecked Bucket List
Suddenly, the unchecked holiday season bucket list gains some redemptive potential. Let the nonexistent gingerbread house serve as the foundation for a humble manger scene in your heart. Let the unfinished decor be a reminder that Jesus embodied perfection when He was born, and will complete the good work in you when He comes again. Let the gift you forgot to buy be a comfort that the greatest offering you can give is the one you have to receive yourself. Let all the mishaps, mistakes, and missing pieces open up a place of emptiness in your soul to make room for the warm, ever-expanding message of Christmas.
"'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23
God has given us the gift of Himself, and this is one present that can’t be returned! Praise the Lord and hallelujah!
Don't Worry About "Making Christmas Great"
Christmas is like salvation: we did not create it, but it's ours when we receive it. It is a special treasure box hidden deep within the soul that we see dimly and know assuredly by faith. Its pure presence increases the value of anything it touches, like a prize buried in a field. It is worth more than all the pearls in the world, but no one can touch it or take it; nobody, including me, can defile it. It is hidden too well—outside of time and therefore imperishable—but nestled so deep in my core that it changes me from the inside out.
Christmas is not ours. We can let the failures fall off.
Christmas is ours. We get to receive it as an undeserved gift.
Jesus is has come, and will come again. Let us live in the space between, holding onto what has been and hoping for what is to be. Salvation wrapped up in the message of Christmas is not just a point in the past, but our present reality.
Forgot the special ingredient to the family cookie recipe? Immanuel, God is with us. Failed to read your Advent book everyday? Immanuel, God is with us. Feeling more stressed than blessed over the budget, office party obligations, and family dynamics? Immanuel, God is with us. Don’t worry about how to make Christmas great this year—Jesus already covered that for you.
Reflect and Respond
Do you ever feel the pressure to make Christmas better every year?
It takes great humility to receive an expensive and undeserved gift. Resist the urge to return the favor. The best way we can express our appreciation is to enjoy the Christmas celebration and let our gratitude overflow to others.