The Ten Thousand Ways You Could Goof Up Christmas
Tis the season for holiday shame blogs. You know what I'm talking about, right? The posts that always seem to float around the airwaves this time of year...
Shame on you if you bought too many presents. You are so materialistic.
Shame on you if you are over-scheduled. You are so focused on the Christmas flurry of parties that you don't remember the reason for the season.
Shame on you if you are so zoomed in to your own little family that you don't remember the hurting in our midst and overseas.
Shame on you if you haven't focused on your children. They are growing up so quickly, and if you don't make this holiday magical, they won't have a healthy sense of wonder when they are older.
Shame on you if you Elf-on-the-Shelfed.
Shame on you if you didn't.
Shame on you if you Christmas pajamaed.
Shame on you if you Santa Claused.
Shame on you if you decorated with so much shimmer and tchotchke that Jesus wasn't made the focus.
Christmas provides an epic convergence for every ounce of the mom guilt we feel all year long.
Eleven months of the year we deal with regular mom shame. The "health food" shame. The "chore chart" shame. The "making the kid read the book before watching the movie" shame. The "how to deal with immunizations" shame. The "providing a perfect education" shame.
But come Christmas, we set all of those concerns aside and obsess about how we are doing this one holiday all wrong.
I've been watching this wave hit every Christmas for more than a decade now, and I've finally decided that the writers of these posts are not trying to wreck our holidays by handing out guilt trips.
They are just processing their own weaknesses and tendencies, speaking out of the social and emotional pressures that have maneuvered them in the past, and seeking a corrective balance. They are saying, "Here's what I've done wrong. Here's how I want to change this year."
Readers who forward those posts are doing the same thing. They feel connected to certain writers because they share a struggle with the over-achievers who have tried to fit too much in. Or they identify with the introverts who have forgotten to look outside of their own little circle. Or they are the super-shoppers who have focused too much on "stuff," and now they want to experience more depth.
When I was a young mom, I used to feel threatened by these posts, but over time, I've learned to read them as confessions instead of as universal exhortations.
I no longer feel choked by everything I do (or don't do), just because some blogger somewhere has written about another of the ten thousand ways I have goofed Christmas up.
Because here's the thing--there's no way for every blogger to speak to every person's specific holiday needs. A single voice emerging from a single life in Heresitwhatsit, Montana might resonate with the Christmas mistakes you've made in the past. Then again, it might not.
God is the one who knows your story. He knows if you have been too into material "stuff" in years past. He knows if you need a simple celebration this year.
God is the one who knows if your marriage has been through trauma, or if your children are broken and need a quiet haven this year.
God is the one who knows if He has a plan for your voice at every single social event that you could possibly attend.
God is the one who knows if an older relative or a child will show up at your house, needing the giddiness of every nook and cranny lit up with tinsel and lights.
God is the one who knows if someone in your home needs material extravagance to unpack a lesson of grace.
God is the one who knows if you need a time of quiet and simplicity to make room to be filled up with Him.
God is the one who knows if you need to focus on giving everything away to those in dire need.
God is the one who knows if you need to spend this Christmas grieving with those who grieve.
I don't think I can make that call for you. I think this stuff is between you and God. He is the Wonderful Counselor who knows your heart and your calling.
After all, you wouldn't have read this far if you didn't want to do Christmas right, right? Your heart aches to wrap up the season knowing that you have invested your time and resources well. You don't want to mess this up.
So instead of letting all those "Don't/Do" posts become a spiritual burden to you, know that they are the stories of men and women revealing their hearts--men and women who are ultimately seeking the same God you are over the next few weeks. Learn from them, but don't let those stories trump your own. It's okay if those lives look different from yours. It's okay if their celebrations do, too.
But do make some time to talk to your Lord and ask Him to give you wisdom for your situation. Give him full reign over all your options, and ask Him to direct your hands and your feet.
Because Christmas is not a series of spiritual hoops to jump through; it's a time to honor the indwelling Lord. He is the God who made a plan for us before the foundation of the world. All resources for His calling will be provided, so we don't have to be nervous, threatened, or strained. We just have to lean in to His current.
Emmanuel? God with us. We don't have to go this alone.
Feel that big deep breath come into your lungs? Feel the freedom and the focus?
Yes, there are a thousand ways to fail this Christmas. But there is also a living God who stands ready to walk you through a sweet, close path of celebrating His birth. That sort of intimacy--that sort of listening-- that sort of yieldednesss--is what will make this your most beautiful, meaningful Christmas ever.