This year, I was excited to celebrate the Christmas season and holiday with all its festivities. Especially now that our world had opened back up after the struggle with Covid and illnesses the past two holiday seasons. I couldn’t wait for all the festivities I had planned for this new holiday year.
I had lots of activities in store: parties and celebrations to attend and excitement about family and friends gathering together. I even decorated the whole house early in November to be stress-free. I shopped early. I crafted handmade Christmas cards early. I was ready for the holidays. Only I wasn’t…
All my planning went out the window in early December. It would prove to be another challenging year as I learned to let go of my expectations and plans and embrace a different kind of holiday. I learned to once again rest, abide, and lean into the Savior during the Advent season.
A simple nail infection in my hand turned difficult to treat and evolved into a more urgent medical intervention with hand surgery: smack dab in December. No use of my left hand for two weeks made daily life challenging as well as functioning “normally” for the holidays.
The cards were never finalized or mailed. The baking of holiday treats to share with others was put on hold. I had to enlist help wrapping gifts or not wrap some gifts at all. Many friendship gifts were never wrapped and delivered. I canceled all kinds of holiday plans. I depended on my family to cook and clean up for Christmas dinner and resorted to paper goods as well—totally out of my norm! Then part of our family had to cancel Christmas Day altogether: they had the flu! And while we still wait for some of the family to be well enough to gather together, many presents remain unopened under my tree.
It was a different Christmas this year. And I learned to enjoy the simple things. No live musical performances to attend didn’t stop me from worshipping and playing Christmas carols at the house.
As I reflect, I realize Mary and Joseph had a different kind of Christmas too. Forced to travel while she was very pregnant, the couple left Nazareth for Bethlehem because of the required census. I’m sure Mary was like any woman and toward the end of her pregnancy that was the last thing this expectant mother expected: traveling. And to make matters worse: all the lodging was booked up. There was no room in the inn for them. Instead, they took refuge in a barn or cave where the animals were kept. That first Christmas Day our Savior was born in that lowly place and laid in a manger. I can only imagine what they did for beds and meals. There were certainly no Christmas decorations or holiday cookies. Yes, the star lit up the heavens and angels sang the first Christmas carols. Wise men traveled afar to present gifts to the newborn King. But Christmas, or Christ’s birth, that first year was a very humble celebration.
It was a different kind of Christmas for them as well. I’m sure they had them let go of all kinds of plans and expectations. And I’m sure they learned to lean into God’s plans while celebrating that the Savior was born. I think that’s the secret. No matter what life brings, it comes down to celebrating the Savior’s birth and His Presence: no matter what kind of Christmas life brings.
I came into this world born humbly as a baby. My first home was a manger. And no matter what each day looks like or even the holidays held in My honor, you can always find Me and worship Me. Sometimes you have to leave all the busyness and worldly ideas of My birth behind to indeed find and worship Me. I am the true meaning of Christmas.
“Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving. Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.” (Psalm 95:2)