For years I have written about bringing traditional values and practices back to our US holidays. This year, I want to write to you out of my own experiences with preparing for Christmas and other holidays through my adult life. Hopefully I can encourage you to take a new look at how you go about getting your home and mind ready for Christmas.
Americans seem to have lost so much through the years and people yearn for those simple, peaceful occasions. Many of us go looking for what we call old fashioned ways of celebrating Christmas so that we can recapture something we hope will fulfill us and our family. We often go to great lengths to find this fulfillment and very often our efforts end up in arguments or stressful confrontations in the family, overspending and profound sadness.
Holidays aren’t peaceful or simple if you find yourself strung out, worn out and tensed up over trying to make the occasion into something that meets unrealistic expectations. I want to encourage you to let go of your expectations for a perfect Christmas get-together this year and to redefine your ideas of Old Fashioned and Perfect.
What does an Old Fashioned Christmas look like anyway? To most of us it means food, family…. and beyond that, what? Perfectly decorated tables? An immaculate house? New furniture? Lots of going and doing? Shopping with family and friends? Just the perfect gift for everyone on your list? A quiet evening or two before the fireplace with family? I think it can, in part, mean any of those things but conspicuously missing from those descriptions is the Lord Jesus Christ and the particular peace and fullness He brings to our lives. Also missing is the true purpose of Christmas; Celebrating the Gift of Jesus and God’s salvation to mankind. It seems so easy for most of us to get busy and involved with making the perfect Christmas celebration that we forget about the reason for all our blessings.
When we set up a picture in our minds and make plans for a perfect Christmas we set up expectations. Expectations can be dangerous things to family harmony and peace.
Unmet expectations = Discouragement & Frustration
Christmas and other holidays like Thanksgiving often leave us discouraged and frustrated with the people and preparations of the seasons. We somehow believe that because we spend money, time, thought and energy on preparations for these holidays that they must turn out a certain way. We believe that our friends and family must react to our efforts in particular ways. And then they don’t. So we become discouraged and frustrated and we show that by the way we treat our family members and in our private thought life.
Food for thought ~ We have no rights to expect anything in this life except the promises of God. Yet our sinful nature tells us that we have rights to our expectations. We have the Gospel and we have forgiveness in Jesus. Is that Good News enough for you? Or do you insist on having your holiday expectations met?
Everyone has their own ideas of what constitutes the perfect Christmas, an Old Fashioned Christmas, but I think the main things that people think of when they think of a holiday being old fashioned are peace and simplicity. I believe we can have those beautiful attributes in our present day celebration of Christmas, if we focus our minds on what we are grateful for, remember to worship God and enjoying the people God sends into our lives.
Certainly, go shopping, lay around the fireplace with family, play games, make and buy gifts, go for a walk…. do all those things but do them with an attitude of thankfulness and with an eye on the fact that these luxuries are gifts from God; we don’t have a right to any of them. When I think in those terms I become even more thankful for what I have.
In these upcoming weeks as you prepare for Christmas, open your heart to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to prepare it for giving thanks and worshipping God in spirit and in truth. Focus your mind on Jesus and serving others as He has done. Focus on people and being thankful for what God has given you. Then your Christmas will be simple, sweet and truly old fashioned. No matter what happens, no matter if things don’t go perfectly and according to plan, you will have thankfulness and peace in your heart….and I think that is the very best kind of old fashioned Christmas there is.