The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

"It's the most wonderful time of the year."

Unless of course it's not.
When Christmas becomes about everything and everyone, but the One, the joy can slip through our fingers and drain out of our hearts.

This year is our first real christmas with a child. Last year she was a little over 2 months young and so much of the season continued without the thought of new traditions, activities, or gifts for our little girl. She wouldn't appreciate or enjoy the time, so why change anything?

Then this year.
Oh, this year.

Santa or No Santa?!
Real Tree or Artificial!
Colorful Lights or White?

A constant search on Pinterest, Facebook, and Google for Christmas traditions that I do not want my family to miss out on.  The scrolling and scrolling through instagram feeds trying to absorb everyone else's practices into my mind so I can somehow incorporate them into our new little family's perfect holiday experience.

I mean, do you not see where this is going?

I overwhelmed myself beyond measure trying to commercialize my own family's hearts as if they need everything but not the one thing.

Undone by missing out on so many fun traditions this weekend, I crawled into bed believing I was a failure. We practically missed (even though we went for maybe 45 minutes) Dickens on Main because both of my arms had pinched nerves and were completely dead, so misery won and we left. The following night our baby girl went ahead and nixed the next idea of a new tradition - The Lighting of the Tree - at our church because she was just exhausted. 

I failed. My daughter didn't have an opportunity to play in the fake snow, nor pet the reindeer and llamas, we didn't capture a picture with Santa, or embrace the tree lights and decorate cookies with our church community. 

BUT joy comes in the morning.

I awoke with the realization I did not miss out on anything about Christmas because I still have the one thing. I still have Jesus. The only part of Christmas my family truly needs. The one who was Lord at thy birth was also born a living sacrifice.  Therein lies the true meaning of Christmas. 

Birth and Sacrifice. 

Neither one is about the person in the act, both are painful, but the reward is great.

"and she gave birth to her firstborn son..."
Luke 2:7

Mary experienced the giving of her body to birth a tiny human, and home-girl did it without an epi & instant access to a large Chick-Fil-A lemonade (eek - personal experience).

"Today... a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord." 
Luke 2:11
She gave birth to a baby, knowing he would fulfill the ancient prophecy, that FINALLY the Messiah would walk the dusty ground alongside her. She birthed the savior of the world, regardless.

That is sacrifice.
Doing for others regardless.
Regardless of the pain along the way, the thank you,  the affirmation or applause. Regardless if it means missing out or being uncomfortable.
Sacrifice is not about you. Jesus did not come into the world for himself, he came into the world to save us.

So this Christmas, take a step back with grace.
Breathe in the fir tree candles (or if you have a real tree that will work, too).
Trust the meaning of the season and let everything else go.
If it brings confusion or stress - BUH BYE!
If it shadows Jesus - ADIOS!
If it's about enhancing you or catching up to the Joneses - PEACE OUT!

Instead focus on the one thing - our Savior - and his giving heart because he has so much in store for you this Christmas, friend.  Let me pre-warn you, it may not be First Place for the best decorated home, instead it might look like doing a chore for a family member without them noticing. It may be writing snail mail letters to family and letting them know they are loved.  Even offering free babysitting for that single parent or the grandparents raising grand-children while they finish up some Christmas shopping.
Whatever the sacrifice is that God calls you to this season, know that it comes with letting worldly desires go and saying yes to the King. But I promise you friend, it will birth in you peace and satisfaction that no "like" or "emoticon heart" could ever provide.