1. Is all shopping complete?
2. Cooking /Baking is all done?
3. All gifts are wrapped and cards are sent?
4. House is decorated?
5. Mind is completely free of clutter and focused on the holidays?
6. Are you ready for the spiritual meaning of the season?
Thanks to the commercialization of the holidays, most people automatically think about the material side of things when this question is asked. Primarily, is all the shopping complete, including groceries? I have caught myself in the same quandry. Do I have gifts purchased for everyone? What on earth am I going to cook? Is the house clean?! With all the hubbub surrounding the season and the pressures to out give and out shine, I myself have struggled to remember what it is all about.
As a child, we typically went to be with extended family for Christmas. In my family, there were many cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. My mom always felt the need to buy something for everyone, no matter how distantly related, and this brought much stress upon our family. Even at the last minute, she was runnning to the store because she forgot someone. And every year, she lamented over the amount of money she was spending. In other words, Christmas was fun when it finally came, but everything leading up to the actual day was nothing short of misery. For mom, the misery continued even after the gifts were exchanged. She always wondered if what she purchased was good enough for so and so, or if that person liked it. Then there came the comparisons. It was like a competition between the sisters (in-laws included). I don’t believe anything was ever spoken, but it was there none the less.
Having grown up in this environment certainly had its effects on me. I still sometimes feel the need to purchase something for everyone, or at least everyone who is coming over, but I don’t feel that I must spend a fortune on them. I am also traumatized when people walk in and find my house a certified disaster area; however, I am overcoming this to some degree 😉
This year has had a different effect on me though. Cynicism has crept in. To some extent, I don’t care if I buy any gifts at all! I do want to shower my kids and husband, but beyond that, it really doesn’t matter. In fact, I don’t care if anyone comes over or not. I am happy just to spend the day with my immediate family. This has led me to rethink the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
Just what should we be ready for anyway? The History Channel has an indepth account of all the different cultures and their varied beliefs and practices concerning this holiday.(http://www.history.com/topics/christmas) There are traditions celebrating winter solstice, Yule and the promise of livestock, Oden, Mithra and Saturnalia. Finally “Pope Julius I chose December 25 [to celebrate Christmas]. It is commonly believed that the church chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival” (History Channel). And the celebration goes on.
Despite its questionable beginning, Christmas to me is about the coming of the Messiah. God the Father chose to intervene on our behalf and sent His son to be born of human flesh. This gift of love was to become the greatest sacrifice a father ever made. Jesus Christ not only came to share the Father, in human form, with mankind and show him how to live in a fallen world, but He came to rescue the souls of men from an eternal death by taking man’s sins upon Himself and paying the penalty for it. That penalty was death on a cross, and God the Father was pleased to allow His Son to suffer this death in order that His prized creation might be redeemed and reinstated as heirs to the kingdom. Now that’s something to get excited about! The thought that God the Father loved me so much that He was willing to allow His own Son to die on my behalf is mind boggling! That truly is love.
“Are you ready for Christmas?” “Are you ready for Christ?” is a better question. This season isn’t about who we can impress or how much we give, because we can never outgive God who gave the greatest present of all. In fact, all we can really do is fall before Him and say, “Thank you,” over and over again. It is difficult to ignore and/or overlook past indoctrination and current hype, but if we truly want to be prepared for Christmas, we must!