I guess everyone who ever loved Christmas struggles with it at some point. I grew up loving it, and still do. But I probably invest too much emotion into what I should feel. Should is always dangerous. What I should feel, what I should do, what I should say to the children, what I should read to them. The meanings they should derive, the spiritual depth they should get, the charity I should give. ‘Should’ may be the worst enemy of Christmas.

What we should do is probably just relax and have fun with it, derive as much depth and meaning as we can, and move on. It’s a delightful holiday. But we try so hard to infuse so much into it. We make it an unwieldy combination of seculary delights and spiritual meaning! It’s truly still a winter festival to those of us in colder climates. And it also celebrates the birth of Christ. But we take all of that and stretch it out, and try to revisit it over and over until it becomes stale and used, and almost mind-numbing. (Furthermore, it’s hard to listen to snow songs about Christmas when you live in South Carolina. Leaves you feeling as if you’re missing out, somehow!)

Of course, I’m rambling about this as Jan and I recover from a vicious stomach virus, so my thoughts are not as ordered as they’d normally be. But I pondered it as I played with the kids this evening. We played with our treasured Fischer-Price Castles and Pirate Ships and Pyramids and Robin Hood’s Forest, many of which have come our way over the many Christmases past. I was reminiscing, and also seeing how they are changing, and how I am changing, and struggling to hold onto every memory and every emotion, beneath the lights of the Christmas tree.

It’s sometimes too much, the pressure to celebrate and remember.

We’re told in scripture not to love the world too much. I don’t think that just means ‘don’t love wickedness!’ I think it means, ‘the world is loveable, so be careful!’ So much wonder and beauty. So much good. It’s easy to love, God was saying. But don’t hold on too hard. For all of your loving of it, something better waits! For all of the beauty of Christmas, the delights of family, the joy of lights and gifts and playing and loving, for all of that, what we believers have waiting is grander than we can even imagine in our craziest dreams.

So maybe that’s my lesson for Christmas. As the boys from .38 Special put it, ‘hold on loosely, but don’t let go!’ Hold on to all of it but not too much, because it’s all changing all the time. Christmas, it’s coming and going year after year, just as the children are growing and changing. I can’t stop the cycle. I can only love the now, and look forward to what lurks in forever, waiting to thrill me beyond my wildest dreams.
Merry Christmas!


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