A Perfect Christmas

(Photo courtesy of the stock.xchng.)

Most of us have a vision in our minds of the perfect Christmas: family gathered around, a clean and sparkling house, a beautifully adorned Christmas tree with piles of lovingly chosen presents underneath, a feast for the eyes and the table, scents of roasting turkey or ham, pumpkin pies, apple cider, everyone marvelously getting along like the end of a made-for-TV movie.

But what if that’s not reality this year?

What if one member is in prison? Or overseas or across the country? Or in heaven?

What if a lost job or a major medical expense has led to a depleted bank account and bare cupboards?

Is Christmas then ruined?

Let’s go back to that first Christmas.

Mary and Joseph were alone and away from home and family in a strange city. They did not have a beautifully decorated house: they did not even have a hotel room. The only place someone had available for them was a stable. The only scents of the season were those of animals in a barn. Mary, as a young, first-time mother, did not have the blessing of a modern hospital and sanitary conditions, a skilled nursing staff and childbirth training. Giving birth was painful and messy. Joseph would have been out of his element helping a woman deliver a baby, and perhaps he was dismayed or frustrated that he could not provide better for her in general, but especially in her moment of need. And after the blessed relief of a healthy child safely born, there was little acknowledgment of who this Child was besides the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and, later on, the wise men. Soon they would face the danger of a king bent on killing the Child in their care and the loss of reputation Mary would endure her whole life as many thought her Child was illegitimate, and soon the ominous promise that a sword would pierce through Mary’s own soul.

What did they have then, that lonely, uncomfortable, smelly night? They had the Child of promise. A Child whom they were told to name Jesus, which means “Jehovah saves,” whose very name is a promise, who would reconcile them to God by taking care of their greatest need, who would “save His people from their sins.” They had the realization that, as the angel told Mary when first delivering the news that she would bear a child though she was a virgin, this Child was the long-awaited and longed-for Messiah, the King, the Son of the Highest. What cause for joy and wonder! They had no idea how it would all work out. But they had the promise, and because of the promise, they had hope.

It’s certainly not wrong to enjoy a decorated tree, presents, wonderful food, and family gathered. But we can celebrate Christmas even all of those elements are missing or less than ideal…because we can celebrate in our own hearts and with those around us that same promise, that same hope. If that’s all we have this Christmas…that’s more than enough.

(Sharing at Inspire me Monday)


19 thoughts on “A Perfect Christmas

  1. Amen! And a good reminder. Thanks for the post! It’s hard sometimes to focus on being joyful for the right reasons and true meaning when something is off kilter or “wrong” with our situation. We’ve had a few of those Christmases! But…..this is true. We can still celebrate with hope.


  2. As long as one has family and friends around that’s all that really matters. Material goods are not essential and as long as we all have Hope in some form or fashion that’s good enough for me 🙂

  3. Very well said, Barbara.

    One of my most cherished Christmas memories is of the gift of firewood when I was homeless. My ex and I were living in a tent in Montana and two men delivered a truckload of firewood for our little tent stove. It was an amazing blessing.

    Love and hope will ever and always be more precious and important than Christmas trees, wrapping paper, or all the gadgets and toys in the world.

  4. What a beautiful post.

    My problem with Christmas is the pressure it puts upon those that are going through tough times to be cheery when they just arent/cant. Pressure can make sad times even sadder, but yes, Christ is always a reason to celebrate.

  5. What a touching post, Barbara.

    Having grown up in SE Asia, Christmas was always more church-centered than decoration/gifts-centered. We would go to church and heard great sermons on the meaning of Christmas on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas Day, we went back to church again and have a communion service. Often times, we would go back on Christmas night, and fellowship again at church.

    Over the years since I came to the States, I have acclimatized to the American Christmas culture, but have recently reminded again the more simple but meaningful times I had during Christmas when I lived in SE Asia.

    p.s. Thanks for the tip of using darker wrapping paper. 🙂

  6. Good thoughts, Barbara. Your post reminds me of Habakkuk 3:17-18 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

    The problem is that often, the things that make us discontent are good things to desire— family close by, resolution of conflict, a better relationship with children or parents or spouse. But those things in themselves will never make us happy.

  7. What a good reminder to always keep the real reason for Christmas in the forefront! There is so much pressure in our culture to have the “perfect” Christmas it takes away all the joy that comes from remembering that Jesus was the greatest gift of all.

  8. Inspirational and so true!

    When Christmases go wrong around our house, I remember past years when things were good, and look forward to future Christmases too. Life has natural and inevitable cycles.

    This year is a good year. I’m savoring the memory for times when it will be needed in the years to come.

    Blessings, e-Mom

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