Thursday, December 10, 2009

“Christmas isn’t about the presents…”

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42, NIV)

Katie has been taking a church history class, using A Short History of Christianity as a text. In the section about Constantine, she learned about the pagan roots of our Christmas holiday. We discussed it, and how the knowledge of the history changes your perspective on the celebration of the holiday. When she told her dad about what she had learned, he told her that he thought it didn’t make any difference how the tradition started; it only matters what it means today – and today, to us, it means the celebration of Christ’s birth. I think this has made a profound impact on the way she views the season.

As for many people around this time of year, especially this year, our budget has been "tight." I had been trying to prepare the children for a scaled-down Christmas this year. A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Katie gave me her Christmas list. There were only five items on it, but a couple of them were a little expensive. I told her that I didn’t know if I’d be able to get her everything on her list, and that I was afraid she might be disappointed.

She gave me a hug and said, “It’s okay, Mom, I don’t have to get any presents at all. Christmas isn’t about the presents anyway. All that is really important is that we have each other and can get together with our family.”

I really thought she was just trying to make me feel better, but she has kept bringing it up. When Cody gets the “gimme’s,” she tells him, “Stop asking for so much. Christmas isn’t about the presents.”

When we were decorating the tree, Katie started with the “special ornaments,” the ones that were made by the kids or were given to them by special people – the ones with memories attached to them. When all of those were placed on the tree, I started downstairs to get the blue and gold store-bought ornaments, but she asked if we could only use the special ones this year. She said, “I think the tree is pretty with just these on it. Besides, all of these mean something to us. That’s what Christmas is about, anyway.”

I am trying to take her words, and her “Mary” attitude, to heart – when the preparations feel overwhelming, when I am anxious about family gatherings, gifts to purchase, cookies to bake, the list goes on...

I want to put away the “Martha” in me, and be a “Mary”… it is not easy for me. And I don’t want anything to steal my joy this year, but satan sure is trying! When the mist of my life is gone, I want to leave good memories for my children that will last a lifetime; I don’t want to leave them a legacy of rushing and fretting.

I think I need to sit with Katie a while and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Maybe I can help her go through some of those cookbooks for our new cookie recipe…

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!
Sing the glory of his name;
Make his praise glorious!” (Psalm 66:1, NIV)

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9, NIV)

There is joy on this journey, on my way home to my Father's house,
Cindy <><

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