As I walked into the “Rusted Chandelier” last week I was met with an overwhelming sense of intimidation and fear. First of all, the shop’s name belies its wares; there is no rusted chandelier. The shiny baubles and sparkles, twinkling lights and my favorite, the rows and rows of gorgeous ribbons, were fabulous. But at the same time that little shop was a reminder to me of past Christmases and my frantic efforts to make Christmas perfect for the family (and secretly come off looking good myself).
A look in the family photo album tells me that the fear of not meeting other’s expectations, not giving the perfect gift, finding the perfect tree or the perfect dress, or ruining the roast … robbed me of some of the joy of celebrating God’s perfect gift—the gift of His Son.
One of my greatest stresses when our children were young was the annual Christmas visit from my in-laws. For several years Bob’s grandmother came along as well. (Now that I’m an in-law, I’m praying for the grace to be gracious and infrequent in my visits to my children’s homes.) Because Bob was an only child and our children their only grandchildren, his parents naturally wanted to spend Christmas with us.
The Bacons usually arrived a week BEFORE Christmas. (You probably know what goes on in most households the week before Christmas.) They were always generous and so thrilled to watch it all happen, but for me it was stress city. Bob’s family enjoyed eating well—three squares a day. And that was before I caught on to the fact that I could do carry-out.
I remember one Christmas in particular, the house in total disarray, fatigue setting in, when we bid his parents good-bye on the 26th only to have them return a couple of hours later. A storm had moved in making the trip back to Chicago too treacherous for driving. Ohhh, how I wish I had the grace to say, “Welcome back!”
Lurking behind my seasonal stress was my PRIDE skewing all that is beautiful in Christmas into a production with Karen center stage and consequently, dimming the view of a gracious God who left the glory of heaven to be born behind the scenes, in a lowly stable in an obscure village of an unwed mother in order that we might become His children and the world might see His light in us.
By God’s grace, this year may I not rob Him of glory with attempts to be a scene-stealer or by pre-occupation with gifts that, sooner or later, will turn to rust, ruin or become re-gifted. Let us be joyful, extravagant, exuberant in celebrating the riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible Gift!”
“O, Come let us adore Him; O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”