Christmas Vacation is one of my favorite holiday movies. I can relate so well to the Clark Griswold character as a dad who wants to provide the happiest Christmas ever for his family. He’s a man on a mission and nothing can stop him.
I always enjoy the beginning of the movie when he’s gleefully singing Christmas carols in the car as the kids sit in the backseat too embarrassed and “too cool” to join in on the fun. Then, one of my favorite scenes: the calm before the storm. Clark is testing out his Santa beard, his son is relaxing and watching TV, daughter is flipping through a magazine and listening to her tunes, and mom is finishing up Christmas cards. It’s a very short sequence, but it includes all the peaceful feelings of a quiet and restful holiday season.
However, it all changes as soon as the doorbell rings and the extended family enters the picture.
Next thing we know, the holiday season transitions into a chaotic mess and everything goes awry. Is there anything more relatable than that? Each year we start with the best intentions to take it all in and enjoy it. “This year will be different,” we tell ourselves. “This year I’ll remember what’s really important.”
I’ve found myself getting easily distracted this year.
I was distracted by material things. Earthly things. Just like Clark Griswold’s unyielding desire to buy a swimming pool with his Christmas bonus, I couldn’t help but want the best “things” for my kids and my family. I spent too much time searching on the internet for stuff we don’t need. I thought about how friends and neighbors would react when I told them about the coolest gadgets and fancy items we got the kids this year. My mind was consumed with wanting more, bigger, better.
Then I found myself overwhelmed by uneasiness. My focus was off and I didn’t feel like I was setting a great example for my kids. I had to change my thinking and rid my mind of toxic thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll still give the kids a nice Christmas, but I really needed to change my mentality about the season.
My wife and I started talking to kids about people in need. We discussed ways we could give back and help others. Now we’re scheduled to ring bells for Salvation Army. We picked out a few items to purchase for ELCA Good Gifts at church and we’re excited to provide baby chicks and Bibles for people in need on the other side of the world. We’ll find some giving trees around town and purchase a few gifts for kids and families who are down on their luck. We’ll involve the kids in all of this.
And we’ll do this all in the name of Christ.
Because He instructs us to set our minds on heavenly things instead of earthly things. He encourages us to give more than we receive. He delights in ways we teach our children to faithfully follow Him.
At the end of it all, that’s a far greater gift than any swimming pool or jelly-of-the-month club.
This year try more intentionally to set your hearts and minds on God’s saving grace. Remember that all we have is a result of His love. Then share that love with the people around you. Just like Clark Griswold did with Cousin Eddie by providing gifts for his kids and driveway to park the RV!
Merry Christmas and may your trees be void of squirrels.