Saturday, December 24, 2016

Finding Christmas

I’ve been struggling with Christmas this year. Not with the holiday itself, but with making Christmas what I wanted it to be. I did everything right. I had lights strung up in my apartment, I had all of my Christmas decorations up (which is saying something), I set out all of the Christmas movies, set up my tree, bought Christmas cards, the whole bit. My apartment looked like the North Pole. I was set.
And I felt nothing.
Not a thing.
Christmas music has been playing on repeat for weeks. I have watched every single new Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, and even some of the old ones. I have been singing Christmas songs, reading Christmas books, baking Christmas treats…
And that’s when I realized something.
There is no magic in Christmas as an adult.
It was the single most depressing thing I have ever thought. Whatever magic I felt as a child, or even just a few years ago, was gone.
I had to be REMINDED to make a Christmas list this year. Normally I just have a list running and it’s the easiest thing ever. I mean, I have a December birthday. I have one wish list for all gifts because they’re roughly 3 weeks apart.
I didn’t even have a list.
I forgot.
I tried to come up with some excuse, some reason why I was so singularly lacking Christmas this year. It could be that I moved away from family and friends. It could be that I work a lot and it consumes me. It could be that the combination of work and writing has made me so much of a hermit that I have too many walls.
Nothing seemed to fit.
I couldn’t find the magic.
I was trying, I really wanted it. I wasn’t anti-Christmas or any kind of Scrooge. I’m a massive Christmas junkie.
But still nothing.
It just felt forced.
It felt like I was trying.
Instead of feeling magic, I felt stress. I felt panicked. I felt all the pressure of expectation, trying to make this Christmas season exactly like all the magical ones I’d enjoyed. It shouldn’t matter that I was away from home and didn’t have anyone to share Christmas magic and traditions with. I could make Christmas for myself. I could.
Except I couldn’t.
I even wrote a Christmas screenplay to try to get it.
It helped while I wrote it,  but once it was done, Christmas was gone again.
No magic.
This year, my church has put out a program of sorts to help us all make the Christmas season special. It’s called Light the World, and every day from December 1st until Christmas we were to focus on a specific attribute of Jesus Christ that had been organized into a calendar.
My family decided to work on them together and to share experiences.
I started off okay, thinking about them all and working towards finding ways to make it work.
Ultimately, I failed.
I failed to focus my Christmas season on trying to be more like Jesus, the reason we even HAVE Christmas.
How was that for discouraging?
Not only had I lost Christmas magic, but I had lost the Christmas focus.
But this morning as I was driving to work (yes, on Christmas Eve), listening to the Christmas music playlist again, I thought back over the special moments I had this Christmas season.
A glorious rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah that brought me to tears.
A family’s tragic loss that resonated with so many, and brought us all closer to God.
An opportunity to serve that made several others want to do the same.
A moment of quiet reflection in a peaceful, holy place.
A song that sparked an idea that opened my heart and brought me joy.
The moments were all there, and there were more of them. They were just hidden by the noise of my life and the stress of trying to make everything about Christmas.
Christmas wasn’t in the presents, the movies, the songs, the treats, or my amazing decorations. That was just stuff, representations of Christmas, certainly, but not Christmas itself. None of things made Christmas.
I didn’t need to make anything about Christmas.
Christmas just is. It’s just there. Whether we have a sparkling tree and lots of presents, whether we have lights and tinsel and snow and songs, it’s there.
Christmas celebrates the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. An incomparable Gift from a loving Father in Heaven. He is the Light to the world, the joy that we sing of, the peace we feel, the reason we even have the magic of the season.
In every gift we give, He is there.
In every song we sing, He is there.
In every tree, every light, every snowflake, candy cane, holly bough, and Santa Claus, He is there.
Christmas is always there because Jesus Christ is always there.
That is the real magic of Christmas, and the best part’s real.
I didn’t fail at Christmas. I didn’t miss Christmas. I found it several times, over and over again, and I found it again this morning.
On Christmas Eve.
It wasn’t too late for me, and there is a very special message in there.
It’s not too late.
Light the world for the Light of the World. The King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. The Prince of Peace.
Merry Christmas, friends. God bless us everyone.
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