No matter how hard I try, Christmas inevitably becomes about me. I want to be in charge of what my children wear, how the house is decorated, and how the schedule of events will happen. As the mother of the house, I’m throwing the party and I want the celebration to go as I’ve planned. And then I remember that it’s not my birthday. This party isn’t supposed to be about me. This is a conversation I have with myself over and over. Anyone else?
Most of us as adults never get to experience our perfect version of a holiday. Because most of us have a perfect version that includes and is dependent upon other people, and when they don’t follow our perfect plan, it doesn’t work. And guess what? They aren’t going to. Because they have their own plan, and it is different.
And why have I decided that my happiness is more important than others? In creating what I think is the perfect celebration for me, I’m making others not enjoy it as much. Which might be okay, if it was my birthday. But I am actually getting this worked up about how we celebrate someone else’s birthday. Instead of focusing on what my birthday gifts to Jesus will be, I am mostly concerned with how his celebration will go down and if I will like it. Because at the end of the day, even after I’ve given to good charities, made cookies for the neighbors, and found the perfect gifts for hard-to-shop-for family members, I can still make it mostly about me. At some moments, if I were Jesus, I’m pretty sure I would un-invite me to the party altogether. (Thankfully, he has a tiny bit more grace than us humans.)
Life and its changes affect the holiday gatherings for sure. People grow up and move away or marry into other families. Kids become adults, new babies are born, and people even leave families unexpectedly. This all means that our family Christmas scenario is just constantly changing. Those that you love the most are now loved by others that you must share them with. We all have to give a little in sharing those we love, and recognizing that it’s not going to be that perfect day we remember or that we only dream of. Or that the “perfect day” has to change from what it was before, because someone is no longer here on earth or because they are celebrating with their “other family” instead of us this year.
I’m pretty sure that giving and sharing is a way that Jesus would want me to celebrate his birthday. And I’m talking about sacrifice here, and “letting go” of your own agenda for those that you love the most in the world. Here are some real life ways this can look: Letting your daughter wear the fuzzy pink boots she unwraps to Christmas dinner with her red plaid dress. Yes, it clashes horribly and will be documented forever in all the photos. Happily changing the time of a meal to accommodate an extended family member, even when you think their reason is silly. And yes, even gladly arranging your festive plans and schedule so that your boys can be ready to leave on a hunting trip the day after Christmas. Maybe a big part of my sacrifice should be giving up my vision of how it should be. Letting others that I love celebrate the way that they want to. Asking Jesus how he would have me to honor him on his birthday.