Staying in the spirit of Christmas

As colds race around our house and keep various individuals awake through the night for various reasons, I find that we all are a little short tempered, a little extra whiny, a little extra boogery, a little extra coughy. And mama has a little less patience to deal with it all as the little negotiate each day with coughs and extra boogers and an extra dose of being tired. Plus we discovered our dishwasher has decided to take a break, so my counter AND my dishwasher are full of dirty dishes and, naturally, we ran out of liquid dish soap so no washing dishes until husband comes home from work tonight with more dish soap.

I find myself wanting to avoid it all, to hide away somewhere in the house where I can hear everyone and just maybe see them if I really feel like I should be responsible and check in. I find myself wanting to crawl into bed and sleep the day away. I find myself grumping about the cheery Christmas music on all the radio stations. I find myself a little stressed out about needing to make a trip into town to buy fleece for a Christmas present for my niece, not really knowing when I can or will even want to do that before we all get together.

It’s really easy to let the little things get to me, especially when I have a cold just like everyone else. When I have slept just as little as everyone else. I definitely start to feel sorry for myself and I justify pulling away from the kiddos, hiding away.

I grump and I whine inside my own head.

Then I remember, it’s all a gift. The realization dawns slowly on me, over the course of half an hour. I remember the snow and the radio, I see the tree and various gifts around the house, some wrapped, some needing to be. I remember that we are gathering with family soon. I remember that Christmas is about so much more than gifts and stress, more than driving and arriving and leaving, more than food and family.

Christmas is really about the arrival of the hope of the world. Christmas is about when Jesus Christ finally came to earth for us. Christmas is about the arrival of our salvation, of our reconciliation to God, about the coming promise of the Holy Spirit, of living in communion with God, of a new age of relationship with God.

When I think of that, when I remember that, it’s hard to stay grumpy. I think of Mary, traveling far longer than I’d want to much more uncomfortably, much more pregnant than I’d want to, giving birth in a barn instead of a nice, clean hospital, with her probably clueless about birth husband by her side instead of knowledgeable nurses and doctors, wrapping him up in strips of cloth instead of a nice, new, sterile hospital blanket, staying outside with the cows and sheep instead of inside on a fancy hospital bed. I consider the life Jesus led, being obedient to his parents who were very like rather ostracized on account of Jesus, who lived with ridicule and whispering and shaming. I think about him finally coming into his own ministry at my age – leaving all he knew, traveling around, sharing the Good News of God with people. I think of him being starved, beaten, tortured, and ultimately killed on my account. It’s hard to be grumpy, no matter what’s going on.

Without Christmas, none of what we do matters. Without a relationship with God, life is meaningless. The money, the stuff, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t fulfill us.

I find it terribly easy to get sidetracked by other stuff. I find it terribly hard to remain focused on what matters. God matters. People matter. Our relationship with both matters. The choices we make here on earth DO echo into eternity, to quote Gladiator, but in a different sense than Maximus meant. Whether we choose to enter into a relationship with God and into eternal glory with him or choose not to and into eternal separation – that’s what matters. Christ came for us to pay our entrance fee into heaven, with a God who WANTS us to be there with him.

I need to do a MUCH better job of remembering what Christmas is really all about, and I need to remember it day after day, not just the few days of December or April, around Easter. For us Christians, Christmas is every day. Easter is every day. Our lives are a testament to those holidays and that they MEAN something outside of their designated federal holidays.

Are you like me? Easily sidetracked by the mundane, failing to see the miraculous and glorious all around you?

How do you recenter yourself? What do you do to remember the glorious when you find yourself sidetracked by the mundane?

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