Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Non Traditional Christmas!

This time of year I enjoy browsing at various decorator shops to see their ideas for Christmas decorations. It amazes me how designers create different takes on the traditional Christmas tree each year.

The Christmas tree. When someone asks you, "What is your idea of Chrstmas?", I assume somewhere in your mind's eye, is a picture of a Christmas tree. What else do you envision?

At our annual Christmas church play, my minister challenged my traditional concept of Christmas. He reminded the audience how traditional songs like "Silent Night" or "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" tend ot soften what the first Christmas was really like for Jesus and His family.

The stable was not probably a European one like we see in Nativity scenes. It was more likely a cave, damp, and smokey if they built a fire to stay warm. Before Jesus' birth, Mary had to travel 100 miles to get to Bethlehem! 100 miles!

Have you ever walked 10 miles in one day over rough terrain? This past summer for exercise, I walked to Chesterfield Valley from my home. I admit, I was sore and exhausted afterwards, and it was barely 10 miles on nicely paved sidewalks!
Mary walked, rode a donkey,travelled over 100 miles when she was close to giving birth to Jesus!

That certainly changes my traditional cute manger scene of Christmas.

Many of us are having a difficult Christmas this year. Our traditions are changing or have changed with the loss of loved ones, or with financial challenges, or with battling sickness. We may think no one understands.

Until we remember Jesus. The cause of Christmas.

He understands hardship, sadness, challenges, loss.

He also understands joy, happiness, and love. That is why He came in such a non traditional way to save the world. His great love for us demanded that He share His happiness as well.

This morning it snowed. I could hardly wait to wake my 9-year old up to see the blowing snow that transformed our backyard into a magical snow globe. I wanted to share my happiness with her.

So much more Jesus wanted to share His happiness with us that He came to earth as a baby, God in human, frail form.

Not traditional.

So I am rethinking, like many of you, what Christmas looks like this year. As I sing the carols and watch the television shows and hear the stories, I tend to long for the old traditions and ways of Christmases past.

I know Jesus understands and will help me transform my current Christmas as He helps me answer, "What should Christmas look like this year?"

How about you? What should this year's Christmas look like for you and your family? Trust Jesus to help you shape that answer, won't you?

1 comment:

  1. Gretchen, you have been in my thoughts and prayers lately for the very reasons you've written above. Just a few minutes ago I tried to post a comment in response to Scout's excitement over the snow but it disappeared.. I forgot to 'sign in' first. Why do things have to be so 'technical' sometimes?!? I'll try to repeat what I had written since I think it applies even more now that i read this post :)
    To this day, ever since I was a child, a new-fallen snow almost NEVER failed to get me up and going! I had to be feeling pretty rough to stay in bed and in the house when it snowed! There's something so soothing to me, so peaceful, about the pure white snow sparkling on the ground, covering everything, making the world seem one to me with no differences showing, no rusty fences or white picket fences - - all is beautiful. The peace it brings to my soul almost makes me feel as if my heart could burst with the wonder of the shades of white and nothing else. Soft mounds, peaks on roofs, domes where bushes were. It always reminds me that as humans, we are all the same in the eyes of God, that He loves every one of us no matter how we look on the inside or outside. That realization humbles me and peace sets in.
    Then the holidays come along, and from working in the public, I became frustrated with all the mis-understanding of the true Christmas spirit. I would see people buying piles and piles of books, bringing them up to the counter, then asking if they could be brought back if the person didn't like it/them. Yes, they could. But, should they have to? Don't get me wrong - - I admit I'm a total book-a-holic. I LOVE books about as much as anyone could love books! But, when the person would pull out a credit card to pay for all the books, I wanted to shout, 'DON'T!!' Choose ONE, with thought and care, thinking of what would make that person's eyes sparkle.
    Just a little interlude into this time of year.. sometimes I get so excited about sending out cards, picking out eye-sparkler gifts, then other times I just want to crawl under my fluffy comforter & stay there 'til Christmas is over. I used to feel guilty for that. Now I know God understands all my joys and tears & it's okay to feel both during this time of year everyone is pressured to get the perfect gift, be the perfect family. Memories fill me with joy & sorrow. It's ok..He understands.. Thinking of you so much, Gretchen