Christmas as you may of heard, is on it’s fast approach. Like a train steaming into station, it is no longer making any more stops except to terminate on platform (day) 25. It is my impression that around this time of year, a lot of you feel the weight of the upcoming celebrations as anything but joyous. You may have the weight of a broken heart or the knowledge that a dearly missed loved one will not be at the table this year. Year by year their chair goes unfilled and the empty spot in your heart feels deepened.
25 as a digit by itself has never held significance before but we all feel the force behind it on the doorstop of December. It’s as though the number itself has power to manifest real anticipation anxiety about all the stuff to do. This is of no surprise with the way culture pushes it’s agenda of “more”, “excess” and “happy family” into our field of view.
This can be an overwhelming source of stress over time. We clutch to keep Christmas a tradition we hold in high pride and standard. Maybe for you, It’s the first time you are applying effort to make things memorable. We let nobody witness weakness and make sure people can see we have it all together this year. The goal of the day becomes a simple list.
The kids will have exactly the presents they asked for and not be brats
The decorations are placed with precision
The turkey will seldom be burnt, lesser be under-cooked
The family conversations around the table will be nothing but sincere and amicable.
Everyone goes home happy
Yet so much of Christmas time depends on the traditions we were brought up around…
Traditions Of Families Past
Individual Christmas Experiences will largely vary person to person. I was blessed with a fairly tight group of family members, all coming together under the roof of our church and home, to celebrate a truly exciting time. Christmas hosting duties were also shared around year to year by Aunties, Uncles and Grandparents from across the country. Everybody seemed to unite and enjoy the day.
The focal point to us was the birth of Jesus and the secondary was of course the family bbq, the aussie way, and sharing of gifts. Guessing what was inside the wrapping before opening was always a good game of trivia and deserving of a laugh. I was able to be nurtured in a place of love when perhaps many today, have never experienced that.
I want to recognize for a moment that my families tradition would be coveted to the person who has not had the same opportunity. A lot of families are broken up, fragmented, into small pieces. The day they call Christmas has lost it’s primary meaning about God, or perhaps never been taught.
The the gift of getting has taken precedence over the gift of giving and the warmth of a united family has turned colder than the mountain tops.
It would seem that everything is hard work and has taken us away from a sense of true north. Tis the season to be jolly but Tis the season , for some, to feel empty, lost and up creek without a paddle.
To help us, we must go back a few thousand years…
Under the Stable, There Was Hope
I really love the nativity story. Though to most people, it holds a cartoon-ish, story book vibe, many miss the messiness of it all. The true nativity story is full of risk, adventure, small faith and small courage. The only way the nativity story is similar with today’s excess culture, is in it’s excess of how complicated things can get. And Quick.
This is where the stable comes in. You see, Mary and Joseph didn’t have much of a Christmas by today’s standards. Even though they were the chosen ones to bring the tradition into all of time.
Mary was given information that the Savior of the world is inside her womb.
She must be escorted in the dead of night by an uncomfortable journey by donkey, to a nothing town called Bethlehem.
There will also be weird things like a bright star in the sky, shepherds and magi that visit you and a mad king that wants to destroy you.