Still Christmas

Christmas is over, leaving behind the remnants of wrapping paper scraps hidden under legs of furniture and the usual weariness that follows post-holiday. My belly is confused at its remaining fullness and tightness of my pants after a mere three days of rich food and celebration with family, and I’m actually looking forward to eating vegetables that aren’t part of a casserole.

My kids made me proud these past couple of days as they expressed gratefulness and excitement over their presents–exactly what every parent wants to see on Christmas morning. Today we enjoyed a day of playing and building and reading, but tomorrow I foresee a little more ‘normal.’ Laundry for sure and mopping the floor, perhaps, interspersed with Lego guidance and Bey-blade battles.

As I transition back to normal, the hollow stillness that accompanied me prior to Christmas waits again. I had never been profoundly affected by a tragedy prior to the murder of those 20 sweet children in Newtown, Connecticut, but since that terrible Friday, my mind consistently thinks of the victims, the loved ones they left behind.

Perhaps I’ve cried because I am a mother, one of my children in kindergarten, another in first grade, and I see firsthand every day the innocence of children that age. Whatever the reason, for the first time I felt the weight of evil in this world. I saw the loss of innocence for all those children who were instructed to close their eyes as they left the school building and all of us in this country as we wept for them.

As the days went on, I couldn’t help but think of the irony of the season. We were preparing to sing, “Joy to the World” and proclaim “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace(E) to those on whom his favor rests” while our hearts felt anything but joy or the promise of peace. How could such darkness, such evil live among us, and how could the words of Christmas ever speak truth?

I thought of the little babe come to save the world, entering among blood and sweat and his mother’s cries as those 20 children left the world the same way. And for the first time I felt darkness surround me and a stillness about my faith. I didn’t sing for joy, and I couldn’t feel the peace.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay

I didn’t question ‘why’ so much as ‘how.’ I knew my theology and believed it–still believe it–but what comfort could Christ offer any of those grieving parents? Aside for the hope of eternity, what could he do to remove the darkness now?

So I didn’t write. I grieved with the rest of the country. And I thought about Christmas.

Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day

And the more I thought about Christmas, the more I realized it was exactly the point. From the moment Eve and Adam ate of the fruit, God knew He would have to save us. The paradise He created for us was now tainted with sin, and we would forever feel the consequences. We can pass more regulations over who can get guns and what types (and I think we should), but we will never rid ourselves of evil. When Cain spilled Abel’s blood, he demonstrated the evil that dwells within us all.

To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray

Yet God still wants to save us, so we celebrate Christmas. We praise God that this mess is not our home. And we acknowledge that our feelings are appropriate–sadness, despair, hopelessness–because this world is fallen. This mess was never supposed to be. And we wait. We wait for the Savior who came as a newborn child and died as man to come once again and end our misery.

We look for glimpses of Him to remind us of the goodness that awaits–the love that we feel for our children, the satisfaction of a warm meal, the wind whipping through the trees–promises of a new creation where we will cry no more. But in the meantime, we can cry, for the pain is real. We can celebrate Christmas and the promise of joy, and we can return to our routine.

And we wait. As we look for the good, we wait.

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Save us from ourselves.

O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy


 

 

 

Christmas Lesson 3: The Christmas Video

 

photo via Flickr 'Creative Commons'

One Friday night about 15 years ago, my friend subjected me to the torture of watching old family videos. Christmas was near, and the spirit caught her mom who gathered us all to the den where colored lights from the tree illuminated the pizza she set before us. She was in a very chipper mood and promised us all cookies for dessert if we watched a family video with her.

“I thought it would be fun to look back on Christmas past before Christmas future becomes our Christmas present.”

I stared at her and gave a weak smile. When she spoke, I had no trouble understanding why my friend Kristen was in the drama club.

Kristen’s dad sighed as he sat in his armchair and did his best to remove the slightly aggravated look from his face. He had no desire to watch an old home video, but the promise of pizza and cookies was too much for this large, Italian man to refuse.

Kristen rolled her eyes when he sat down. As is the case many times between teenaged daughters and their fathers, the two of them annoyed each other. Kristen’s sour attitude annoyed her father, and anything her father did annoyed Kristen.

I was beginning to wish I had said ‘no’ when Kristen asked me to spend the night.

Mrs. Carlucci pulled out a blue tub of VHS tapes, all adorned with perfect, white labels.

“Christmas 1988. That should be fun!”

“What would that make you, Kristen–about nine?” her dad asked.

“I guess” was Kristen’s elaborate reply.

“Michelle, I thought you’d like to see what your friend looked and acted like as a little girl. She was so cute with her brown curls!”

Yes, Mrs. Carlucci. How did you know this was EXACTLY how I wanted to spend my Friday night!

For the next 15 minutes, we all watched with our eyes glued to the television. Clearly, Mrs. Carlucci did not remember what was on this video before she put it in the VCR. For the next 15 minutes, we watched as Mrs. Carlucci frantically picked up every piece of wrapping paper that hit the floor. We watched ‘chipper’ Mrs. Carlucci make her way through Christmas with a scowl on her face.

“Mom, what was your deal? Kristen asked as her mom on the video waved her away with a Get out of the way, Kristen.

Mrs. Carlucci looked away with embarrassment. “I, I don’t know. I guess I was just having a bad day.”

“On Christmas?!”

But before Kristen could cause her mother any more grief, our eyes were once again drawn to the TV screen.

Come here sweetie, we heard the normally gruff man say to his daughter as he pulled her close. Merry Christmas!

I love you, Daddy! the little voice said back to the gruff man.

I scrunched up my face as I watched a scene that looked like it was from Little House on the Prairie. This father and daughter oozed so much love and sweetness I thought I might be sick.

Aww, come here Bailey! the man called to the family dog. He scratched her ears and laughed as she licked his face.

Kristen and I looked at each other in disbelief–all this love coming from the man who normally complained that he had a Cocker Spaniel instead of a German Shepherd.

“Who’s the bad guy now, huh?!” Mr. Carlucci shouted out with a laugh. “Here’s the proof! Here’s the proof!”

Kristen and I tried to roll our eyes, but we couldn’t help but laugh. We did have proof–her father was full of love while her mother was a psycho!

We watched more minutes of opening presents and hugs between father and daughter while Mrs. Carlucci would occasionally look up from stuffing crumpled wrapping paper in the tall, black trash bag. Her weak smiles were not convincing, a far contrast from the chipper woman baking cookies in the kitchen 20 minutes before.

“Well, Michelle didn’t come over today to watch old videos.” Mrs. Carlucci began to stand up and make her way to the TV.

“No, no, leave it on! I want to see more,” the gruff man called from the chair. “Heh, you see that, Kristen! Your mean, old dad–ha! Look at that!”

“Oh, please, John,” Mrs. Carlucci said as she turned off the TV.

“What? I thought it was nice–a father and daughter showing so much love on Christmas…and now we have the proof!” he laughed again as he got up to hug his wife.

She pushed him away and went to the kitchen.

“John, sometimes you are so annoying.”

Kristen and I laughed as Mr. Carlucci made his way to Kristen with a sly smile.

“We have proof!” he yelled as he pulled her in roughly to his chest.

Now at this point in the story you may think that you know the lesson–we create our own realities; or people are complex, dynamic creatures, not defined by the labels we give; or never show a family video that you haven’t first pre-screened. However, there is more….

Watching that video 15 years ago, I thought Mrs. Carlucci was psycho, but then I got married and had my own children. I experienced Christmas from the perspective of a mother, and, somehow, it didn’t have all the magic of Christmas as a child. Perhaps that’s because the mother creates most of the magic.

Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci was simply exhausted after preparing meals for three different family Christmas get-togethers back-to-back. Perhaps after each get-together, she came home late at night to a sink full of dishes and laundry that needed to be moved from the washer to the dryer. She just wanted to go to bed each night, but she needed to get ready for the next day. She needed to set out her casserole dishes and grate cheese and organize the presents for each respective family Christmas.

Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci was tired from baking cookies. In an attempt to spread the love of Christmas, she spread herself thin for an entire week baking cookies with her daughter–cookies for teachers, cookies for neighbors, cookies for the mailman, and, of course, cookies for Santa. Maybe, on that Christmas morning, she was just sick of cookies!

And let’s not forget the cleaning. Perhaps, Mrs. Carlucci, after that final family get-together, came home late but was not able to go to the bed that called her name. No, now she had to worry about her own family Christmas.

Perhaps she cleaned the dishes in the sink so that she could prepare the ingredients for her own family breakfast in the morning. Perhaps Mrs. Carlucci saw the mess on the den floor and didn’t want Santa to break his neck when he came down the chimney. Perhaps, like the ‘psycho’ she is, Mrs. Carlucci vacuumed at two in the morning so that the family would be sitting on a clean floor when they opened presents by the tree. Perhaps, when Mrs. Carlucci finally went to bed at three a.m., after cooking and vacuuming and positioning presents under the tree and setting out cookies for Santa, she was satisfied with how she had prepared this day for her family…satisfied and dead-tired.

Mrs. Carlucci may have felt like a zombie that morning, and, perhaps, she was a little annoyed when she saw crumpled piece after crumpled piece of wrapping paper hit the floor that she had just vacuumed four hours ago. Perhaps, Mrs. Carlucci saw the crumbs Santa left after he ate his cookies, and she decided that next year she was going to serve the slob cookies laced with arsenic.

Mrs. Carlucci didn’t need to see the presents Kristen opened–she knew what they were–she’s the one who bought the darned things. She loved her daughter–maybe she told her to get out of the way because her own head was spinning from sleep deprivation and didn’t need three Kristen heads confusing her even more. And, perhaps, when Mrs. Carlucci saw Mr. Carlucci sitting on that floor that she vacuumed, eating the cookies that she baked, laughing with his daughter over the presents she bought, and scratching the ears of the dog she consistently fed and bathed–perhaps she just wanted to slap him.

It’s okay, Mrs. Carlucci. I get it now.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Thank you, Dad, for your ‘Christmas Lessons’ idea. I had some great ideas from others for more ‘Christmas Lessons’ about Santa, but due to the rush of Christmas and the inability to get out of bed after Christmas, not much has happened with my blog as of late! I look forward to getting back in a regular schedule…maybe next week.

If you missed it, here’s Christmas Lesson 1 and 2.


 

 

If I Were Mary

photo courtesy of lindsayshaver

The year I turned 15, Christmas took on a different meaning for me. I remember looking in the mirror and imagining myself pregnant. I rubbed my belly as I thought of how I would tell my family the news. I envisioned the walk downstairs to the kitchen and the kitchen table where I would ask my parents to sit, and I pictured the look on my dad’s face as I shared what I learned from the angel Gabriel:

Dad, Mom, I’m pregnant–but please don’t be mad. I’m still a virgin–I’m carrying God’s baby.

But of course they would be mad…and confused…and scared, much the same as I imagine Mary and her family were. Sometimes as I read the Bible, I forget that these people in the stories weren’t some special breed of holiness, able to accept anything God threw their way. They were real people, and when I was 15, I got that for a moment.

Mary had to be scared even though she trusted God completely. Her parents had to be confused, worried about public shame, and unsure as to how to treat their daughter. And Mary’s community–I’m sure they were abuzz with their own interpretation of how that baby bump got there.

When I was 26 at Christmastime, I imagined I was Mary again. I looked in the mirror and rubbed my belly, except this time my belly was round from the life that grew inside it. I was pregnant with my first child, a son, and I was full of joy and anticipation for his arrival that March.

I was also nervous. Would I instinctively know how to care for this child? Would I be a good mother? I thought about Mary, brimming with joy as she felt her baby kick inside her womb, brimming with questions and pressure as she realized her responsibility–she was the mother to God’s son. How does one prepare for that job?

Now I’m 32. I look in the mirror and find a couple laugh lines that I hadn’t previously noticed. I rub my belly that has never quite gone back to the way it was before three kids. Over the last six years, God has shown me glimpses of His goodness, His holiness, His provision, His plan; and I’ve grown as a result of struggles He has brought me through while holding my hand.

And I think of Mary, riding on a donkey as her stomach tightens and the pangs of labor prick her abdomen, while God is holding her hand. I wonder what runs through her mind as she realizes her baby is coming and she is still far off from a bed. I wonder what she thinks as each door Joseph  knocks on is opened to the news No room. I wonder if she feels His hand, this young girl who had not yet experienced the pain of sex for the first time, as she experiences the pain of childbirth on a bed of hay with cows and sheep as her audience instead of a midwife.

Because I know what I would think. If I were Mary on that donkey, I would worry. If I were Mary watching door upon door close with bad news, I would question. If I were Mary lying on that bed of hay, I would doubt. God, where are you? Why didn’t you plan for the birth of your Son?

Looking back over the last six years, I’ve seen how I react. I get confused when God’s plan takes me through hardship. I question what He is doing. And when doors close, I despise the words of those who reply,”Well, that must not be God’s will.”

But they are wrong as I have been wrong. For something to be God’s will doesn’t mean that all doors fly open. For something to be God’s will doesn’t mean that the end result is neat and clean. Sometimes God’s will is exactly what He told us it would be–He just used different means to that end than we would’ve chosen.

He held Mary’s hand as He closed the doors to those inns, yet she had heard Him correctly. She was in the center of His will. He hadn’t forgotten that she was giving birth to His Son–He chose that blanket of hay for his baby’s bed. He chose the most humiliating way for a woman to deliver a baby to deliver the most beautiful love story this world has ever heard.

God’s Son, Immanuel, God with us, God for us. God’s son, for the lowly shepherd, God’s son for the rich intellectual. God’s son, for the old prophet, God’s son for the smallest child. God’s son, accessible to all on that humble bed of hay.

I wonder if Mary felt God’s hand, if she were able to push aside the doubt that I would’ve allowed to creep in and fester in my mind. I wonder if Mary were able to trust in the midst of agonizing pain and closed doors.

If I were Mary, I’m not sure that I would’ve. It is only now, at 32, that I’m beginning to grasp that the truths in these crazy Bible stories are also true for my crazy life. When I thought I heard God clearly only to have door upon door close, I may have been right.

I just hadn’t realized that God is preparing my own bed of hay.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May you feel God’s hand as He leads you this coming year.

 

Christmas Lessons 2: The Nativity

I sighed as I took the nativity out of the box. A gift from my mother-in-law, the olive wood figurines from Jerusalem stood beautifully in their simplicity. I wanted to do the scene justice–display it in a setting of prominence, center-stage in our family room–yet I wanted to enjoy this nativity for more than one Christmas.

For the same reason the breakable nativity from my mother sets atop the T.V. cabinet, this nativity quietly hangs out on our electric piano: I fear my children.

I fear the two-year-old who ate all the candy out of the kids’ advent calendars by December 10th.

I fear the four-year-old who lost her one new pair of school shoes (how does one lose the shoes that one was wearing?)

I fear the five-year-old who discovered the razor I use on my legs can also shave off hair from his sister’s head.

I don’t want baby Jesus to go missing. I don’t want the shepherd to lose his staff. I don’t want Mary to break her face. And I don’t want the sheep to become part of a wild animal safari in the playroom.

I want them to remain sacred objects of our faith, a reminder of the beautiful Christmas story.

“She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them”

The story of the king sent to reign over heaven and earth, the king who entered this world not on a golden chariot but instead through the blood, sweat, and tears of a young girl. The king for whom there was no room but instead a bed shared amidst foul-smelling animals and dust and hay.

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”

The story of the God who chose to reveal himself first to a group of shepherds, the young and the elderly, those not valued by society but who caused disdain with the stench of sheep they carried. These were the first to meet the Savior of the World.

13 ‘Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace on whom his favor rests’

The story of a baby who made the angels sing. This baby, the Son of the holy God who loves His children so much that He sent His Son to bring us peace.

As my children retell this story with shining eyes anticipating Christ’s birthday, I see the nativity, no longer mere objects on my piano destined to be broken or misplaced at their hands. These objects that they caress with their fingers, the star that they turn as they sing of that silent night, holy night are living as the story takes root in their hearts.

And that story can’t break.

Linking up with Mama Kat in response to her prompt to describe my nativity scene. Come back tomorrow for another Christmas lesson, this time inspired by some of the Santa stories left by you!

*For the complete Christmas story, read Luke 2.



 


Christmas Lessons: 1

 

photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell

The Christmas holidays had just concluded, and my dad and I made a pit-stop at the gymnastics center where I would spend most of my childhood. He needed to work out some details for the upcoming meet, and I hung out in the lobby for those few minutes. Had I known that my world would change that quickly, I would’ve stayed in the car.

My gymnastics coach happened to see me and stopped by to say ‘hello’ before heading down to teach a class.

“How do you like your new beam?” she asked.

I immediately was taken aback. I did, in fact, get a beam for Christmas. It was blue and sat flat on the floor and was made out of some stiff foam-like material. The beam wasn’t very heavy and would move if I jumped on it. Honestly, it’s a wonder that I didn’t break my ankle, but, nevertheless, that beam was one of the best presents I ever received. From Santa.

How did you know I got a beam?”

The wheels in my head began spinning, but clearly, her wheels were not keeping up with mine.

“I saw your dad pick it up,” she answered matter-of-factly.

The wheels were now grinding together, producing a thick fog of smoke in my brain.

My dad? How was that possible? Santa brought that gift.

And then, as any child who wants to believe would do, I began to concoct the recipe for how my coach would’ve seen my dad purchasing this gift when, in fact, it was from Santa. It was easy–Santa is magical, so he simply turned himself into the likeness of my dad and purchased the beam. He didn’t have one in his workshop because…well…it doesn’t matter. He knew I liked the one at my gym, and it was just easier to fly down from the North Pole, turn himself into my dad, and purchase it then try to have his elves recreate it in the workshop.

Yeah, that was it.

And even though I forced myself to believe for another year, that day marked the day when a little of the Christmas magic died in my heart.

Christmas Lesson 1: Let the child tell you what he or she received for Christmas, not the other way around. You have no idea what spiral of doubt and confusion you may otherwise create.

Was Santa ever spoiled for you? What happened?

I had a fun idea this morning–or fun to me–and wanted to pass it along. If you will send me a Christmas lesson in the comments or in an e-mail, I will try to recreate a short story around it. Or if you prefer, you can write a story and provide the link in the comment box of any of the Christmas Lessons I write! If I don’t get any responses, I’ll know you all think this idea stinks.

Christmas Definitions

 

Photo by tmorkemo via Flickr 'Creative Commons'

Since I was small, I remember hearing the ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ motto for the holidays. I would nod my head in assent whenever the challenge was brought to me, and I continued the crusade of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Happy Holidays’ when I was shopping at a retail store.

Now that I’m older, I’ve noticed not much has changed. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with reminders to keep Christ in Christmas, but this year I had to ask what does that actually mean? Christmas changed for me when I had to explain the meaning to my children, and during the last year, especially, I struggled through my own definition of keeping Christ in a holiday that, at times, feels largely secular.

So today I want to hear from you. What does keeping Christ in Christmas actually mean?

Linking up with Jen today.

 

Rethinking Christmas

Something magical happens as the month moves from November into December.  The air gets a little cooler, and there is a distinct smell of Christmas.  I savor the smell of Christmas trees and burning logs in the fireplace, making a cold night cozy and enjoyable.  I could sing carols all year long, and my heart smiles as the radio plays songs of a quiet town and a bright star. I take delight in the squeals of my children as we pass a house covered in bright, colored lights, even though I prefer a more simply decorated home of white candles and wreaths. I love this time of year and the beauty that it brings.

And while I love all the joys of the season, every year I find an internal battle erupt within me as the talk of Christmas begins. When I became an adult, little things about Christmas here and there began to bother me, but it wasn’t until I had children that a full conflict ensued.

My first priority was to ensure that my children understood why we had Christmas, that Christmas is ultimately about the gift of salvation God sent to humanity through a tiny baby, yet I couldn’t reconcile the way we celebrated Christmas with its actual meaning.  Even after my husband and I took specific measures to ensure Christ was a part of our family’s Christmas, the explanations I gave to my children didn’t make sense, even to me.

I remember confiding in our Bible study when my first child was nearing two my uncertainty of how to introduce Santa Claus into Christmas without making him the hero, pushing Christ aside.  One woman suggested if I told my children the story of St. Nicholas, I wouldn’t have a problem.  So I read up on St. Nicholas, trying to fill in the gaps of my understanding, and I explained Christmas to my kids: “St. Nicholas loved Jesus so much that he brought gifts to children whose families didn’t have enough money for the things they needed…and we remember St. Nicholas by having Santa Claus bring you presents even though your family is not poor.

We did our best to keep the gifts at Christmastime from becoming excessive, so we gave each child three gifts: “When Jesus was born, He received three gifts from the Three Wise Men…and even though it’s not your birthday, we thought you should get presents because clearly the gift of Jesus is not enough.” Every year I struggle as I try to connect the true meaning of the holiday with how we celebrate.  But the fact of the matter is that I struggle because the connection is weak.

Let me be clear–I’m not opposed to presents, I’m not opposed to spending time with loved ones, and I’m certainly not opposed to the good cheer and good deeds that traditionally accompany Christmastime.  However, I’m not sure that how we celebrate this holy day is, in fact, holy, or resembles anything that would make Jesus proud, and if we’re going to have a holiday with His name on it, the day should resemble Him and His values.

How could He take delight in a holiday that we made, supposedly in His honor, that causes the family who can barely meet its bills added stress over not being able to give its kids a ‘good’ Christmas?  Why would he rejoice in the amount of money being spent, possibly debt being created, in order to give our loved ones things that really have nothing to do with the love of Christ? While my family sits around a tree, ripping into gifts that we don’t need, another family around the globe goes without water and the basic necessities we take for granted.  When Jesus was on earth He lived humbly and modestly, showing compassion and mercy to those around Him. How could He then find glory and honor in a day devoted to exalting ourselves, our materialism, even good things like our families–but not Him?

Christ did not come to make us comfortable.  Christ did not come so we could enjoy large family gatherings.  He came to seek and save the lost.  He came as a baby to one day lay down His life as a sacrifice, and those of us who believe are called to serve as His ambassadors. Yet the day we set aside to remember His gift seems to gloss over the call that was put upon us.

I remember when I was younger having Jewish and Hindu friends who celebrated Christmas.  I didn’t understand how they could celebrate a day that held such important religious significance to the Christian community, how they could simply remove ‘Christ’ out of ‘Christmas’ and continue on with the holiday.  Yet, as I look at how most Christians celebrate Christmas, I can honestly say there isn’t much of a difference.  Perhaps some of us go to church, but only if our church offers a Christmas Eve service, and only if the time won’t interfere with our family’s plans.  We may read from the Gospel of Luke or sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jesus, but the rest of the day looks remarkably similar.

As Christians, we get frustrated when franchises instruct their employees to say, ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas,’ and we lament the disputes over where we can and cannot display our nativity scenes.  We desperately want to keep Christ in Christmas, yet, perhaps, we never really invited Him in.

But what if this year we changed Christmas? What if this year we really did make it about Him?  What if instead of making a Christmas budget for all the gifts we had to buy with a portion set aside for the good deeds we wanted to do, we instead made a budget for all the good deeds we wanted to do with a small portion set aside for gifts?  What if we enjoyed a quiet night, a holy night singing carols around the tree reflecting on our Savior who came with nothing so that we could have everything, and we let that realization be enough?

What if Christmas were known around the world as the time of year when Christians took care of all of God’s children?  Not just filling up a shoebox or making a donation to a charity but sacrificially giving up our own gifts in the hope that others might encounter the one True Gift.  What if the month of December were marked by Christians giving food and building wells as a means to show the world the Bread of Life who promises that we will never grow hungry or thirst?

Frankly, the thought is a little scary.  Who wants to mess with Christmas?  But perhaps it’s time.  I can spend years trying to make the connection for my children between their meaningless gifts and Jesus, or I can rethink Christmas and give it real meaning.

I want to invite Him in.  I want to remove the hustle and bustle of the holidays to focus on the little babe in the manger.  I want to push past the mound of presents that I don’t need to remember the only true treasure that I couldn’t buy. I want my gifts to others to point the way to a loving Father, and I want them to know the gift that He has given me. I want His gift to be enough. And I want Jesus to smile and say, “Yes, I’ll put my name on this holiday,” because the day was truly His.

Added December 1, 2010: I just discovered a whole website devoted to changing Christmas this year by turning our hearts towards those in need.  Check out ChristmasChange for more blogs on this topic.