Christmas, Faith, parenting

A Simple Christmas

Christmas is tomorrow, and I don’t know what my problem is!

I normally LOVE Christmas. I’m one of those people—you know the ones who put their Christmas decorations out at the beginning of November. I enjoy all of the sights and sounds of Christmas, and I want to have more than enough time to enjoy my decorations.

But something has happened this year. November has come and gone, and I still have not retrieved my decorations from the attic. I have a simple tree standing in the corner of my living room—but only because I got it from my sister complete with lights. It made no sense to put it in the attic, so it came directly from my vehicle into my living room. I have managed to string some simple mesh around the tree, but it has no ornaments. There are no stockings hung with care—or even without care. There is no garland strung around the house.

I don’t understand why I can’t get motivated to decorate. Usually, cold weather and snow are sure signals that Christmas is around the corner. Not this year. We have already had three snow/ice storms in Oklahoma. My kids have already had three snow days at school. We have had some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded this early in our state in the last few weeks. We all became believers in global warming when we finally got above freezing (34 degrees) this week!

Yes, I have purchased and wrapped most of my gifts—only because I went out after the crowds died down the day after Thanksgiving. There’s nothing exciting under the tree—all practical. I am trying to avoid spending too much, and there are things my children need more than want.

As I contemplated my strange attitude toward Christmas this year, I decided that maybe my attitude is not so bad after all. Perhaps a quiet and simple Christmas is exactly what my children and I need. We have been reading a Christmas devotional together on our way to school each morning. I want my kids to know the Christ of Christmas better than the commercialization of the holidays. I want to have a calm season rather than a harried rush. I want to enjoy the true gift of the Christ child rather than the pressure of finding just the “right” gift.

My tree seems to represent just the right mix for our Christmas this year. You see, there are only three components: the tree, the lights, and the banner wrapped around it.

The tree stands in the corner, a great representation of the sacrifice my Savior made for me. It was because of His great love for us that He came to this earth, born as a baby in a manger. He came to this earth knowing that it would require the greatest sacrifice—His own death on a tree. Despite the cruel and painful death He faced, He still chose to come to the earth—for me! What great love He has for us!

There are few things I enjoy more than turning on the Christmas lights at night. There they shine in the darkness of the room, putting out so much light that I can actually read if I am sitting near the tree. The lights penetrate the darkness, and there is a sense of peace. I could literally just sit and soak in the beauty of the lights for hours!

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16

That is what Christ wants of each of us—for us to light up the world around us. He tells us to shine brightly in a dark world where others often want to snuff out the light. We might find ourselves scared to wear the name “Christian” for others to see because of the persecution all around us. But, Christ says that when we let our light shine, others will see our good works and glorify Him. The criticism I have endured is nothing compared to what my Savior endured.

Around my tree is a simple roll of mesh, wrapped around and through the branches. It is a beautiful white with some gold strands intertwined within it. Perhaps the white should remind me that my Savior’s blood took my sins and washed them white as pure snow.

Though your sins are like scarlet,
I will make them as white as snow.
Though they are red like crimson,
I will make them as white as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

Because of His great gift to me, I can stand in His presence—forgiven, reconciled to Him, in perfect communion. Because of His blood, I have the right to be called His daughter. Just as the mesh has gold strands throughout it, I see my Savior wearing a banner across His chest bearing the name “King of Kings.” I see Him standing on streets of gold. I see Him waiting to one day usher me into His presence. Gold is a color of royalty, and I am blessed to be a true princess, a daughter of the King of Kings!

Maybe my attitude this Christmas isn’t as pathetic as I thought. Perhaps it is all organized by my Savior to get me focused on the truth this season—that Jesus came one quiet night without fanfare to be born of a virgin in a lonely manger. The stars shined a little brighter as Mary and Joseph listened to the sounds of the animals around them. They wrapped themselves and their precious newborn tightly to keep warm. They looked at the stars shining above them lighting the sky. They held their newborn baby tightly, knowing that He was no ordinary child but a true miracle.

While they knew that they had been chosen for a task that would forever alter the path of this world, they had no idea the journey they would truly walk—a journey of hope and hurt, a journey of disbelief and amazing faith. They didn’t know what the path would involve, but they knew they could trust the One who had called them.

Perhaps we are not so different from that precious family so many years ago. Perhaps we, too, have been called to impact the world. We sit and wonder how it will all happen. We have hints and hopes of His plans for us, and yet we can’t see how it will all happen. We pray that He will guide our steps and lead us in the purpose He has for us. Now, we must simply trust that it’s all in His plans, that as we trust Him every day He will guide us into the future He has for us. Perhaps that is the miracle of Christmas.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven,
and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Luke 2:8-14

May God richly bless you with the joy and miracle of the gift of Christ this year! God bless!

**********

Post-script: While I was enjoying my simple Christmas, my children (specifically my daughter) was not quite as thrilled with my less than stellar decorations. They left for their dad’s house Friday and will return Christmas morning. When they return, they will find that—with the help of family—I went Clark Griswold on them! We have lights and tinsel and bows and ribbons everywhere!  While it may not be the traditional, pretty, calming decorations, it will be a Christmas surprise they won’t forget! I pray that you, too, enjoy creating Christmas memories that will live on forever!

Merry Christmas!!

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2 thoughts on “A Simple Christmas”

  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences. This is my second Christmas as a single parent. Unlike you who must share your children with another house, I have my children all to myself since I am a widow.

    I will pray that God will continue to show His love to you and your children in ways both great and small, and that hurting hearts will find their way to your devos and see that God is with us regardless of our marital state.

    Good luck with your “Griswald” Christmas surprise 😀
    Merry Christmas

    1. Carol, I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. Despite the differences in our circumstances, I have found that many of the emotions and struggles we experience are similar. Best of all, the Savior reaches down to love and care for us both–promising comfort and joy and future filled with hope! I will keep you in my prayers as you travel this unwelcome–and yet often blessed–journey that has become your life!

      My kids were shocked and are loving the Griswald Christmas!

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