I saw this yesterday and laughed out loud. We like to fancy it up this time of year, don’t we? The holidays have a way of magnifying and bringing to the surface all kinds of feelings that lie dormant the rest of the year. Totally irrational fears about ourselves? Check. Deep wounds from something that happened years ago? There they are. Pet peeves about meaningless things? Oh, hey there. Moments of fleeting joy? Hopefully some of those are mixed in there as well.
Traditions are fantastic, until they aren’t. Buying presents is fun, until it isn’t. Trying to keep up with what everyone else appears to be doing is just never a good idea. A lady in my Bible study joked she has to pray to herself every year as she sets out the food because her mother-in-law always comes in and requires it to be rearranged to her high standards. It’s humorous, but underneath it all there’s little sparks of resentment and rejection just waiting to blow up into a giant forest fire at any moment.
Have you ever had an irrational meltdown when someone added almonds to the green bean casserole? Sat and cried over photo albums of a childhood Christmas’ with people who are no longer with you? We want to make our kids happy, please the in-laws, make the recipes correctly and honor Jesus because oh my gosh, He’s why we are doing all this other stuff… right?
Sometimes dynamics are just hard. I haven’t met a perfect family yet, not like the ones you see on the Christmas commercials. Sometimes we just make it hard on ourselves. We hold grudges. We obsess over the wrong things. We withhold forgiveness. The miracle of the baby in a manger becomes just a bit of an add-on because we are tuned into the wrong things.
John Piper wrote that “the meaning of Christmas is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed.”
That, my friends, is hope.
The good can never be erased, so maybe we can relax a little when trying to make all the traditions happen. The bad, the ugly, the evil… it can be changed though the power of Christ! That’s the whole reason He came. That means we can try something new this year. We can see how Christ came to set us free. We can forgive so-and-so and move forward. Maybe we aren’t ready to change the green bean casserole, but we can change our heart attitude and realize the old cliché still rings true: Jesus IS the reason for this season.