The holidays have arrived! Seems they come quicker every year, and this year I just don’t feel prepared. I’m so tired of going through the motions…of trying to live up to the hype. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving… I love Christmas… I love all the things that come along with them. What I don’t love is the distraction and expectation. I haven’t felt that great lately…haven’t really felt like bringing out the mistletoe or decking the halls or planning to attend 15 Christmas events. I haven’t felt any particular holiday cheer or been in the mood to play carols or anything holly jolly like that, I don’t know why. But because at this time of year there is an expectation for everyone to be “merry and bright”, I have felt almost wrong in not at least putting on the face of “Christmas spirit”. “What is wrong with you?” I ask myself continually and really have begun to worry. But today I remembered… all this stuff is just fluff. Sometimes we enjoy the fluff, but it isn’t necessary for the celebration. The real joy is in the reason that we celebrate. Are we celebrating because we get to do all kinds of Christmasy things and feel warm fuzzies, or is it because a Savior was born 2000 years ago bringing grace to a world desperately needing it?

Let’s say it’s your birthday and every year on your birthday you throw the most fabulous party for anyone who wants to come. And let’s say that, at first, only the people closest to you attend, and they give you gifts and sing you songs and make you feel like the most loved person on earth. As the years go on, people who don’t even know you hear about your parties and they start coming cause there is free food and cake and lots of party spirit. They enjoy all you have to offer, but they could care less if you are there or not. After a couple of years of just attending, the people who don’t know you begin to come up with new ways to make the party better and more fun. They start to add games and decorations and songs that even your closest friends enjoy. As the years pass, a good many people forget it is even your birthday. Some of the people grumble and complain that an event as great as this shouldn’t even be about you. Even some of your closest friends are so distracted with all the activity and stuff, that besides a quick glance every now and then, they overlook you. It is rare that you even hear “Happy Birthday” any more, let alone “Thank you for such a wonderful party” or “Gosh, we love you so much”.

I really think that God has allowed me to feel “normal” during this year’s season, so that I can get back to what this is really all about. I think He is looking for some people who will breath through this time of celebration and enjoy Him most. People who will allow Him to bless them with little random gifts of love, instead of struggling to keep up with expectations. People who will rest…yes, I dare say “rest”…as they keep their focus on Him and celebrating who He is.

As I was driving along this morning, the thought that brought holiday joy to my heart was “Jesus, you’re my favorite!” Christmas is a celebration of a Savior that came when we needed saving. A Savior that still offers His grace and His friendship to anyone willing to lay down all the other stuff and say “Yes” to Him. Nothing is wrong with the celebration! But the celebration, itself, is not what brings the true joy. We seek and seek that joy in all the hype and when it’s all over, we feel let down. We go about the year thinking “Next year we will do it bigger and better” or even “Next year we will do it smaller and simpler”. We have missed the entire point when we “do”, instead of “be”. Be a Christ follower this season. Rest, give, love, and celebrate with a heart focused on the enormity of what happened one night long ago. “Glory to God in the highest… and on earth, PEACE, goodwill toward men. A Savior has been born to you this day…Emmanuel, Christ the Lord.”