Ever since I was a child Christmas has always been a magical time. The twinkling lights, the heavenly smells and the oh so wonderful memories all flood my mind when I think back to my childhood. You know what’s funny to me though? I can’t remember the gifts I got. Like at all… Oh, I got gifts – a lot of them. My parents and Grandparents were very generous, but when I think back that’s not at all what comes to mind. I remember the traditions, the memories and the real reason to celebrate the season. I remember my mom’s face full of love and gratitude as she read the nativity story to us and explained how much God loves us. I remember the hot cocoa we sipped, the Christmas cookies we decorated and all of us gathered together.
Now that I’m a mom raising three kids of my own, it’s easy to get caught up in the gift part of Christmas. Like most moms, I want to make my kids happy – but you know what I’ve realized. Gifts are only a tiny part of Christmas and it’s not what kids will remember one day. They’ll remember the moments, the memories and the love. They will remember the smells in the kitchen, the traditions, the laughter and most of all the love they felt. The story of Jesus being born into a manger in the most humble of conditions should remind us of two very important things on Christmas. One – God sent Jesus to save us from ourselves, because He loved us. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because of that amazing gift we were given all those years ago. The second reminder is the beauty found in that dirty, humble stable. A king, our only hope, our salvation, and our reason for celebration on Christmas all rested in the dirt. That’s right, the King of the world came to sleep, not on a throne, but in the hay. Something about that image gives me chills.
This is what we need to remember on Christmas.
The beauty of Christmas is not in the gifts, the decorations or even the traditions. It’s found in the love. God loved us so much that he sent us a Savior, in His son Jesus. The beauty is in the love, the grace and the mercy. Close your eyes and take a deep breathe. What do you see when you think of Christmas as a child? I see my beloved grandparents that are no longer with us, I see the set table on Christmas morning as we all gather around to share in conversation and laughter, I see the love I felt from my family. So, as you embark on Christmas this year try to remember one thing. Christmas is all about that love. Not presents, but His presence.
Focus on love.
It can be seen in your husbands eyes as he watches you open the gifts he let the kids pick out for you. It can be found in your children’s faces as they run down the stairs in the morning and joyfully scream “Merry Christmas Mama!” It wont be found in a certain gift or a perfect table setting. It won’t be found in a perfect family photo. It won’t be found if we are too stressed running around doing everything to sit down and enjoy the memories we will one day want back.
If you have the perfect home, the perfect tree and the perfect meal laid out, but you’re yelling at everyone to stop making a mess or to get out of the kitchen, you’re missing the point. Christmas is about the beauty found in the mess. The smiles under the scattered wrapping paper. The hugs, the laughs, the conversation and the love we feel every year. Christmas is about Jesus, and he doesn’t care what your tree looks like, what meal you’re serving or what gifts you got for each other. He is only after one thing, your heart. Remember we love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) So this Christmas let go of the need to appear perfect, the spotless floors and the unattainable expectation that everything will go perfectly smooth. None of that matters. One day your kids will be grown and when they look back they won’t be able to remember what gifts they got, they will remember the love they felt.
Merry Christmas my dear friends, may you feel God’s love this season and find beauty and love in every moment -even the messy ones.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11,12 (NIV)