My Christmas tree is not up right now, and I don’t even care. I hate putting that thing up and out and decorated all around. The outside of our house isn’t decorated either, much to our neighbor’s dismay. I have purchased exactly zero presents. Zero. Black Friday came and passed and I forgot all about it.
I can’t stand Hallmark Christmas movies. Yes, we know. She works in the big city. She wears very fancy heels and has a big apartment. She has a very important job and is working her way towards a big promotion, but on her way up the ladder, she fell down and into the arms of a hillbilly widower who lives on a farm with his cows and his chickens. He has a broken heart, a big smile and mud on his steel-toed boots. They despise each other at first. Then, after they are forced to work a booth together at the town fair, they fall madly in love because opposites attract and everybody loves Lori Laughlin (who plays the lead role). She quits her job, waves goodbye to the big city life and finds true happiness in the simplicity of rural life. In the sequel, there are kids and dogs and tears and stuff.
And while we’re at it, I don’t even like most Christmas music. I don’t find the lyrics especially engaging and the rhythms all sort of blend together to my ears, with the exception of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” which is hands down, the greatest of all time. It’s fine, I guess, I just don’t get all the fuss, or the need to listen to it 24/7 for a month solid. I need music I can dance to. I need music I can jam to. And I can’t jam to “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” I can’t put on a private concert in my GMC Acadia to “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.”
And I absolutely, positively do not understand why Hobby Lobby starts filling up their aisles with garland and wreaths and 5-foot wooden angels in July. It does not get me excited, not even by an ounce. Frankly, I think it’s all absurd. So there, I said it.
Now before you unfollow me, before you unfriend me, before you comment something hateful, hear me out.
I enjoy the holly and the jolly and the magical wonder. I enjoy the peppermint mocha lattes (which is Starbucks’s greatest flavor and I think PSL can go back to the Satan who sent that disgustingness to us) and cookie decorating and gift exchange parties. I enjoy it. I really do.
I enjoy the joy.
I enjoy the cheer.
I enjoy the lights, not on my house, but I enjoy them everywhere else.
But honestly, I’m not willing to part with my husband’s presence for 3 or 4 hours on one of the few Saturday’s we have as a family for him to pull out the ladder and get to work. I’m not willing to part with the money to buy giant inflatable snow globes or plastic light-up Jesus figures either. Not even that projector thing that you can buy from Walgreens that shines red and green lights everywhere. So, there ya go. It ain’t happenin’.
I’m not willing to spend my December being busy. I’m not willing to spend my month being stressed out. I’m not willing to spend my season worrying about which outfit to wear to what party.
I’m not willing to miss out on time with my family because I’m fretting over making this the most wonderful time of the year for everybody else.
I’m not willing to struggle over a new recipe for making stuffing because I’m too worried about doing stuff that matters with my children.
I’m not willing to miss out on the importance of Joseph and Jesus and Mary because I’m too engrossed in making my days chalk-full of merry.
I’m not willing to drown myself in the star of wonder, but get so bogged down with things to do that I wonder how the people I love most are doing.
I don’t want to spend my holidays thinking lovely thoughts about the people in my life. I want to spend my holidays loving on the people in my life. I don’t want to spend so much time standing in long lines that I can’t stand around a fire toasting marshmallows for s’mores. I don’t want to make small talk at crowded parties, I want to do small things like watch “How Grinch Stole Christmas” and string popcorn and snuggle up reading the story of Christ’s birth. I don’t want to focus on the way things inside my house look. I want to focus on the way my family and friends look: how they glow, how they laugh, how they give to those around them.
I don’t want to hustle and bustle to make Christmas Pinterest-worthy. I want to praise the name of Christ because he is the only worthy one.
So if I decline your invitation, if I forget to send you a Christmas card, if I don’t have ten thousand gifts around the tree that may or may not set out this year, if mine is the only house on the block not lit up, I hope you’ll forgive me. I hope you’ll understand. I swear, I’m really not a Scrooge.
I’m just trying to soak up this season with the people I love most. I’m just trying to find the no-fuss, no-fancy, no-frills joy of that very first Christmas. I’m just trying to find Jesus.
And Jesus isn’t in the stress. Jesus isn’t on Amazon. Jesus isn’t in being spread thin, or burned out, or so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open during my kids’ Christmas pageants at school.
Jesus is in the still. Jesus is in the silent. Jesus is in the simple.
Jesus is in the stable.