As of this writing, there are just eight days (counting today) before Christmas arrives in all its twinkling, starry splendor. In all honesty much has already been accomplished: the house (inside and out) is decorated. We have a good start on our cookie baking (at least six kinds are already in their tins and stored in the attic where there’s no heat and lots of natural refrigeration). In fact, as I’m occupying myself in my office, wife Evelyn is baking up a storm and filling our home’s interior with mouth-watering fragrances. I just finished my online Christmas shopping, but still have to find some goodies to put in the stockings.
So, things are rolling along swimmingly. However, there are still several other items that need to be finished. Our Christmas card, for one. As those of you on our Christmas card list know, we try to be original with our annual seasonal “report.” At this time, I’ve taken the items that Evelyn ID’d from her appointment book and typed them up for the informational side of the “card” (I say “card” because it truly is more of a newsletter than a traditional card). Before the day is over I hope to have the cover illustration drawn.
But, of course, there are even more tasks that need attention, and with only eight days till the deadline, it’s starting to put some pressure on me/us to get them done on time. I haven’t actually wrapped so much as a gift yet. Oh, wait — I take that back. There is one gift propped up next to the tree that I wrapped last week … a huge gift for Evelyn that arrived on our porch with all kinds of identifying information plastered on all six of its sides, including a full-sized picture of what was inside. So much for surprising her with that one.
The problem, you see, is that my office is small, and this huge box was taking up too much of my space. I had set it in front of the closet, which I rarely need to access under normal circumstances. But these are not normal circumstances, are they? And so, every time I had to put something in the closet or take something out, I had to slide the box to one side. After that became enough of an annoyance I decided the best way to solve the issue was to wrap the thing and put it out next to the tree, which I did. Problem solved. And I’m now one gift closer to finishing all the wrapping.
I know it’s not supposed to be like this. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and, as such, should be a time for festivities and celebration, of letting our hair down (in my case, figuratively speaking), enjoying people’s company, laughter, and even expressing moments of gratitude for “the reason for the season.” But my family is just as guilty as most Christian families (and secularist ones who really don’t see Christmas as anything other than an excuse to spend money to excess), buying into the present-purchasing, the glitz, the card-sending, and other practices in which we will not even engage until this time next year.
Understand, I don’t believe there’s anything inherently wrong with any of these things. It’s a joy to see homes outlined in festive lights, to sample the baked goods of friends and neighbors, and, certainly, to reconnect with people we haven’t heard from all year, if only for a brief moment by way of a card (in some cases, it’s reassuring to know that they’re still around)!
But it’s the pressure to get things done that bothers me. I suppose a lot depends on how we approach those necessities: am I baking cookies only to be sure we have enough by the time we need to distribute them, or am I baking cookies because it’s fun and somebody is going to enjoy them and because it’s Christmas and I’m paying forward the gift that God gave me in Jesus?
Guess I gotta think about that.