Friday, December 14, 2007

Recovering Holiday-holic

In the last few years, I have made an about face when it comes to Christmas. Once upon a time, Christmas was my absolute, hands-down favorite time of year. And my absolute, hands-down favorite place to be at Christmas time? The mall. Any mall would do. I relished the decorations, the music, the crowds, the sales, the Santa photo-ops. I would bump through the crowded stores with a smile on my face, wishing my fellow bumpees a Merry Christmas.

Yes, I know. I was a little annoying.

Like one of those dancing Christmas elves, with the hat and the pointed shoes.

I tinseled the tree, festooned the windows, played holiday music on the hi-fi, baked Christmas goodies, attended Christmas parties and concerts. I was a bona-fide Christmas junkie.

My name is Renae, and I am a holiday-holic. Or at least I was.

Somewhere along the line, Christmas has lost some of its wonder for me. At some point I began to view the mall not as a holiday Mecca, but as a dark and menacing Christmas jungle. Somewhere along the line, the word "Christmas" began to bring stress and anxiety instead of joy and peace.

Perhaps it was the fact that I usually waited until December 15 to start making my homemade gifts. Perhaps it was that I couldn't say no to any party, any program, any volunteer position. Perhaps it was that I felt each gift had to be gift-wrapped, not gift-bagged. But whatever the reason, the pendulum has swung to the opposite side. Now, toss a little tinsel on the tree, and I'm good. Period.

But not really. The whole Scrooge thing doesn't fit me well, as hard as I may try. Like any recovering junkie, when I get a little taste, I crave more, and more, and more. And then, things get out of control, and the pendulum swings back to the other side again. So, what's a girl to do? There's got to be some kind of balance, some kind of middle ground between the dancing elf and the Grinch, right?

I suppose it is my own fault. If Christmas doesn't bring me peace and joy any more, perhaps it is because I have forgotten the source of that peace and joy. Somehow, He has gotten lost in all the tinsel and wrapping paper and parties. I have forgotten that the beauty of Christmas isn't in the presents and bright lights and festive music. The wonder of Christmas lies not in the chaos, but in the calm.

Oh, don't get me wrong. Christmas is a celebration! Just as I spend great time and effort planning each of my children's birthday parties, the birth of God's son should be the greatest, grandest, most elaborate celebration of them all! But I wonder if I've placed too much focus on the celebration itself, and not on the reason for that celebration? Hmmmmm . . . I'll just bet if I can somehow find a way to keep my focus on God's gift to us, instead of on my gifts to everyone else, I'll rediscover the joy and peace of Christmas. After all, it is only through that gift, given so simply in a manger with a single star as a decoration, that true peace and joy can be found.

So, I guess I'll pull on my elf shoes once again and head to the mall. After all, I have a birthday party to plan!

Luke 2:10-11 “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”


Let me know! How do you keep your focus in the right place during the Christmas season?

2 comments:

Judi "Jlo" Moran (Oct. 2006) said...

Yea, for Jesus' birthday.
Glad you got your holiday spirit back!
Jlo

Anonymous said...

Renae,

I too am glad you found the reason for the holidays again.

I'm a pastor in North Carolina and this time of year the task of helping people refocus is always a challenge.

I wrote an entire series on it that really showed me the pain runs deeper than I ever imagined. You can read about it here, http://www.robsingleton.net/2007/12/06/more-christmas/

Hope it helps.

Pastor Rob