Christmas –Don’t Miss It!
by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
I missed my 32nd birthday celebration. And if there ever was a year I needed a party that was it.
In the preceding months I had become a wife for the first time, moved 1000 miles north from San Francisco to Seattle, adopted three children, and was about to celebrate my first wedding anniversary with my husband away in Texas at a ministry meeting!
May 23rd dawned rainy as usual in my new northwest home as I drove four-year-old Fiona to her playgroup — a wonderful gathering of little girls from our church who played together with two different moms each week.
This particular week Sharol was the hostess and since someone else was the helper I didn’t even consider going inside with Fiona — I was too busy having a ‘pity party.’
So I drove to a nearby cafe, and promptly spent those two hours drinking coffee and working myself into a grand depression… No one loved me, no one understood me, and no one knew it was my birthday in this new place, blah blah blah…
Imagine my astonishment and embarassment when I picked up Fiona and discovered that Sharol and the other moms had put together a lovely brunch to honor me on my first birthday in Seattle! Of course, it was a ‘surprise party’ and by the time little Fiona walked into the house where everyone was waiting, I was already in the car and not to be found (no cell phones in those days, folks).
I missed it!
The beauty, the food, the caring, the love, the gifts — they were all there especially for me but I was too caught up in myself and my own neediness to be present at my own birthday party.
At the end of each year we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. And while Christmas is supposed to be a celebration, some consider it the hardest, most depressing time of the year.
The expectations of the season are that we be full of joy and festivity with lots of gifts to give and people to remember us in special ways. But for many it has been a hard year, and there are few Christmas cards in the mailbox and no holiday party invitations. The money is tight and the extended family is estranged. How much easier it might be to just crawl off into a corner and host a ‘pity party’ — to say with Scrooge “Bah, Humbug.”
Don’t do it! Don’t miss this celebration because it’s for YOU. God gave us the ultimate Gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us His great love!
This is OUR PARTY — we are the recipients of this most treasured Gift. My prayer each Christmas season is that we SHOW UP. That we accept God’s offering to us, that we bask in His beauty and His love for us.
What are the temptations each holiday season that might cause you to miss the joy and wonder of it all? Why not decide this year exactly what your expectations for Christmas will be. Ask God to help you focus on others and not just your own situation, especially giving you grace for times with extended family. How much time and resources will you spend on family, friends, worship, colleagues, parties, cards, and gifts?
Will you carve out moments to sit by a fire and listen to Christmas music or read a classic Christmas story? If you plan ahead and know your boundaries, then perhaps this year you will be better prepared to intentionally celebrate the birth of Christ in the ways you find most meaningful and most satisfying. Don’t miss it, friends.
(from my book A Southern Style Christmas by Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Your burden is too great to bear?
Your loneliness is intensified during this Christmas season?
Your tears seem to have no end?
You should lead the celebration!
You should run through the streets to ring the bells and sing the loudest!
You should fling tinsel on the tree, and open your house to your neighbors, and call them in to dance!
It is unto you that a Savior is born this day,
One who comes to lift your burden from your shoulders,
One who comes to wipe the tears from your eyes.
You are not alone,
for He is born this day to you.
- by Ann Weems
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from my family:
Tim, Mike, Cindy, Stephen & Maggie, Justin, Tim K. & Fiona
“The Day of Joy returns, Father in Heaven, and crowns another year with peace and good will. Help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil, by the blessing that Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our bed with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen” -Robert Louis Stevenson
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