While unpacking all the Christmas decorations and seasonal odds and ends, I recently came across a Christmas memory-keeping journal from ten years ago.
The adorned journal had places to record favorite holiday recipes, most memorable gifts each year, and traditions that were established year by year. And for every year of the five-year record-keeping holiday journal, there was a section to share the fondest memories of that year’s celebration.
I thumbed through the journal and found, woven into the delicious menus and lists of loved ones, a collection of memories belonging to an oft-bitter, unhappy woman…me. There were accounts of stress, strife, discord, and unmet expectations at Christmastime. There were sections written about family gatherings gone wrong, of unforgiveness, and of seasons of discontentment. Each year recorded in the journal seemed to ring with similar themes.
There were so many years wasted on being disappointed at Christmas.
And when I consider that time in my life, what’s poignant is not how difficult a certain family member was, what gifts I did not give or receive, or how well I did or did not decorate my home for a certain party. While those things may have seemed to weigh on me at the time, what I once recorded as disappointments, I now recognize as Christmases spent where Jesus was simply not enough to me. I longed for something satisfying, but looked for it in broken cisterns. How thankful I am that by God’s grace, I no longer come up empty during the holidays.
This Christmas will be no different for most of us: we will still be part of broken family gatherings, disappointing gift exchanges, and the stress and strife that leave us disillusioned and done with holiday cheer.
But, thankfully, Christmas is not about those things. Christmas is Christ coming to save sinful man with the hope of the Cross.
Emmanuel…God with us. He came to mend broken and dysfunctional families, He came to give the only gift that would truly satisfy…and He came to not just redecorate, but to completely reconstruct the lives of his children.
Let us not waste any more time discouraged that Christmas isn’t what we hoped it would be…because Christmas is a celebration of more than we hoped for and what already is.
May we prepare our hearts to that end this Advent season…
Because of Grace,
Ruth Simons, www.gracelaced.com