Is it just me, or is it not quite as “Christmassy” as it typically is, this time of year?
I mean — it just feels like, the lights aren’t as twinkly, the Christmas music — if it’s even playing — seems a little flat, the ice skating rinks in New York City are empty — as are the stores (and restaurants), and it’s as though we’re all collectively holding our breath to see if — like Thanksgiving — Christmas is even going to “happen” this year.
And, to be honest, I’ve really let the “up-in-the-air-ness” of it all get to me. Here it is, it’s December 10 and I have purchased exactly two Christmas presents. And, the window of “delivery eligibility” for online orders is rapidly diminishing, so unless I want to risk it all to physically go into a store for a stinkin stocking stuffer, then I better get my act together, or else get on board with the idea of giving out homemade back rub coupons this year.
I don’t think I’m alone in this, though. COVID has really given this holiday season the “1-2-punch.” And we’re all just hanging on by a thread…much like the virtual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
I mean — I saw at Hudson Yards they were offering a “virtual visit with Santa.” Now, if that’s not just the saddest thing I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is.
And I’ve really been trying to get in the spirit. If you follow me on Instagram, (which I would really appreciate if you did, I’m @beauty.beyond.bones)…I’ve been trying to post a bunch of Christmassy stories, complete with folksy/indie Christmas music and a romantic filter that would make even Nicholas Sparks proud. So, I’m trying. It even flurried yesterday…and even though it hit when I was out on my run (in shorts), I tried to welcome it with the joyful wonder of that “first snow,” despite the near hypothermia that occurred as a result.
So, suffice it to say, despite my best efforts, my recent outlook has been a wee bit Grinchy.
But this morning, as I was looking out the window at the blustery 31 degree morning, I had a bit of a Christmas epiphany, you could say.
I started thinking about the manger. I remembered how Mary and Joseph kept being turned away from inn after inn, and as a last resort, they made due with a stable, literally surrounded by farm animals: cattle, ox, sheep, donkeys.
Sounds kinda like a 2020 experience, am I right?
But that very first Christmas, all they had were each other, and the Christ child.
And that’s when it hit me.
That is our exact situation, right here in 2020, too.
This Christmas, we are being brought back to the manger. Not just in our mind, or on the creche on the mantle. No, we’re actually physically being brought back to that quiet, solemn night, alone with just family and Christ.
This year, all the materialistic, clamoring noise that usually surrounds Christmas has been stripped away. Those distractions that compete for our attention, and divert our focus away from the true miracle of Christmas have all but dissolved, leaving us with no excuse, but to pull up a bail of hay and park ourselves next to Baby Jesus in the manger.
I was reminded, this morning, that instead of feeling melancholy or wistful for the normal “holiday rush,” with the Christmas parties, and battling for parking spots at the mall, cookie baking, and going one million miles per second, it seems, I should cherish the fact that this Christmas, I can really return to the Why.
Return to the “Reason for the Season” — which, believe me, I cringed just as hard typing that, as you did reading it.
But it’s true. It’s an eye-roll-inducing cliche for a reason: it’s true.
Christmas isn’t about the decorations. It isn’t about having 100 gifts under the tree, with the perfect gift wrap, and the Christmas cards with the color-coordinated matching family outfits, or the kids’ school chorus concerts…those are all nice and beautiful traditions. But when it comes right down to it, it’s about Jesus, coming to earth as a child, in the most humble of circumstances, all because He loves you and me enough to be born to die.
And what a truly unique and glorious opportunity we’ve been given — in the pandemic holiday season of 2020 — that we can spend this Christmas differently than we ever have – and probably ever will – ever again: in our own little families, with Jesus.
We’ll have to have virtual church, and therefore, have to purposefully and intentionally make time for Jesus, and invite Him into our homes, and we’ll spend Christmas in an intimate, incredibly special – and hopefully meaningful – time.
I honestly, think it’s really beautiful.
That first Christmas, all there was was Jesus, and the love between a very small, and very holy family.
This Christmas, the old is new again. And here we are today, in that same, manger-shaped boat.
May we all embrace our seemingly desolate present, as the opportunity for our own living nativity, as we navigate these uncertain next couple of weeks, before we welcome Baby Jesus at Christmas, with just our own little family, too.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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