This year Christmas felt different in our house.
For the first time ever, we had no family come in town for the holidays. It was just my immediate family celebrating together. ( “Just the 6 of us.” I like to say!) It was a bag of mixed emotions around here. We love us some grandparents, aunts and uncles, but I found the silver lining in feeling no need to step up my “hostess with the mostest” game. I watched a ton of TV, and even came to the dinner table sans makeup for most of the week. (Until one of the children said, “You look like Uncle Jeff!”) Then I went and donned some mascara.
The kids are all getting older so I thought it would be a good year to change up some traditions. Instead of ice skating on Christmas Eve morning and a family talent show/charades at night, (which we have done for at least the past seven years.) we went bowling in the AM and played cards later that night. (Lame! I know, but it was actually kind of fun!) My son, who is all about routine and structure, held it together all week, watching (and listening to my phone conversations) as I implemented the change up, but come Christmas Eve he blurted out, “I feel like you are trying to ruin Christmas!” to which my daughter explained, “No Buddy, this is just what it feels like to grow up.” (I love her so much it hurts sometimes!)
I’m surely not trying to ruin Christmas for anyone, and she makes a good point. Sometimes we have unmet expectations during the holidays, we want the perfect day, the perfect meal, or the perfect present. Expectations seemed easily met as a child didn’t they, by a doll or a skateboard or bike? I remember getting a Holly Hobby Easy-bake Oven one year and being over the absolute moon for weeks on end.
Somewhere around 12 or 13 however, the cookies, the traditions, the presents under the tree and the thrill of opening them all, begins to lacks a little luster and the longing begins.
The longing for more.
I feel like it correlates with an age of spiritual accountability. If you’re not even sure what you should be expecting, it can feel like a longing for something just out of reach.
We are awaiting a King,
and the atmosphere is pregnant with expectation.
On Christmas morning! King Jesus has come.
I tell my children this is why we decorate. This is why we celebrate, gather and give gifts. We, along with the whole world, get to attend the biggest birthday party ever. When I keep my eyes on that one fact, the feeling of expectation in the air makes sense and I am filled with joy. There is no tinge of hopeless longing and no residue of empty pain.
The day after Christmas can bring the worst let down of all. Almost a depression of sorts sets in. We play with a toy, don a sweater and wonder if the season was all it could have been. Was it all it should have been?
The answer is, Yes!
When we accept His gift of salvation ,we fill the very void that only He can fill and Christmas truly takes on new meaning and the good news is that Jesus is the gift that keeps on giving!
The longing and the expectation finally make sense!
I caved and we spent Christmas night playing a round of charades for my son who loves tradition. We use the same “Christmas themed” version every year so we all know what is coming and we pretend to be surprised. I could see on his face that this year, the actual game was not as exciting as his memory of the game. Which was just fine with me. At least he got some closure. Perhaps that memory will fade. Perhaps not. My hope for my son, and for all of us, is that the true meaning of Christmas would fill our hearts to overflowing and we would always long for more of Him.