This holiday season has been a lesson in simplicity for our family. Not so much because we do not have the funds to splurge on lots of gifts (that too), but rather because we seem to be running low on time. Work, school, home, bills, parties, etc. It’s enough to make you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of busyness. Simplicity of time is something we often forget during the holiday season. We often assemble our holiday lineup of activities and then wind up drained before Santa even shows us.
We want the perfect holiday, the perfect house, to get the perfect gifts, cook the perfect feast and take the perfect pictures. While it’s nice to have a to-do list and goals, maybe all this seeking “perfection” is actually what makes everything more stressful and less merry. Especially when we get the bills in January.
So I’ve decided to scrap the long to-do list, leave certain decorations in their boxes, pair down the annual dinner, stay within our small budget, not even set foot in the mall, and focus just on spending time with family and the real meaning of Christmas. Life will go on even if I don’t make candy for everyone on the block or fill stockings to the brim. Christmas will be just as merry even if I prepare two side dishes instead of five and don’t decorate every room in the house. It’s not how much we fill our holiday schedule with, but what we fill it with. We can easily trade in the idea of the perfect Christmas for one of simplicity and peace if we choose to.
The birth of Jesus is the best reminder of what really constitutes a perfect Christmas. While modern day manger scenes paint this surreal scene of a family, visitors and animals in a barn, the reality is, it was an imperfect night. Having to travel away from home for a mandated census, a very pregnant Mary goes into labor and the only place available has been occupied with farm animals and probably smelled, well,... like farm animals. Yikes. Talk about a bad night. And yet despite all the pain and toil, the Angels proclaim Jesus savior for all people, shepherds come to adore him and God deems the night “perfect.” It was all part of the plan; God’s, not man’s.
So whatever you have planned for the holidays I hope and pray you are willing to trade in the hustle and bustle of perfection for something a little more simple and a lot more merry. You don’t have to attempt to plan the perfect Christmas, because God already did. And you don’t have to attempt to get everyone the perfect gift because, guess what, God did that too. All without a Visa card, a tree dressed to the hilt, or a Christmas cookie exchange.
Take that Martha Stewart.