One of my favorite Christmas movies is “White Christmas.” I think about the singing and dancing of Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye; Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney. A story that is filled with challenge, camaraderie, hope, and love. It is a story that works out perfectly in the end – boys get girls, the show goes on, it finally snows, and the General’s Vermont inn is saved! Wow, if only Christmas was like this for all of us!
There is an interesting juxtaposition that happens this time of year – it might be considered a form of madness or insanity (see Albert Einstein’s definition). We have an image in our heads and hearts of the perfect Christmas celebration.
It all starts on Christmas Eve – everyone goes to the Candlelight service and no one puts up a fuss about being there!
Christmas morning is perfect – perfect timing on breakfast, opening of presents, and the joy of sharing – especially when all of the presents magically end up equal in number and value and everyone got exactly what they wanted.
Then there is the Christmas meal – the table is regaled in its finest and everyone is seasonably and appropriately dressed for the occasion, the fireplace is going and there is just the right amount of snow on the ground.
It all sounds so perfect! (I feel giddy and all sentimental!)
Ok – now is the time for a reality check. How often does Christmas work out perfectly in you household? Once every five years? Once every decade? Every quarter of a century? Or how about never?
And yet we keep holding out for and working hard to realize this image of the perfect Christmas only to have it miss the mark year, after year, after year.
Here is my experience – there is always at least one thing that does not work out exactly like we anticipated or hoped it would – in other words we have yet to experience the perfect Christmas! Been close a time or two but never perfect. I would bet a month’s paycheck that every single one of us share this common experience – the routinely, less-than-perfect Christmas celebration.
So why do we hold onto the false idea and image of a perfect Christmas? Why do we stress ourselves out over the one holiday that is supposed to be about love, joy, hope and peace?
Could it simply be that we like our idols? We like the idol of a perfect Christmas and we can’t let go of it?
What ever the reason is for holding on to a false image, we all know the results – stress turns into anger, disappointment, sulking, quite, yelling, accusations, and a rotten Christmas because you, you, you, and you ruined it! This is a more fitting description of Christmas year after year after year.
Let me propose a solution – put down your idol! Stop worshipping at the altar of “your perfect Christmas.” Because it ain’t gonna happen!
In a blog post from last December, the author of “Livin’ on the Skinny” suggested that we learn to settle for “less than perfect.” I agree with her – it is time to put down our false idol and embrace the messiness of Christmas.
Embrace the original Christmas story – the very Son of God, Jesus, who was born to an unwed, teenage girl, in a stable amidst all of the muck that comes with animals and because of his birth, other young boys in Bethlehem lost their lives. It was the worst of circumstances for his birthday; it was far from perfect!
Embrace today’s Christmas story – even though “God is with us” does not mean that everything is going to be perfect; actually because we are broken people, everything we do will reflect our brokenness – it will turn out less than perfect. So embrace the “less-than” Christmas possibility. Despite the flaws of the day and the people – God’s love, hope, joy and peace can be the center of our celebration.
So put down your idol of the perfect Christmas and accept that something is not going to turn out exactly like you planned it. If you start with this philosophy then you might be able to focus on something else – like the fact that God is with you, your family, and your community of faith.
Honestly that is the reason for Christmas – to celebrate the fact that God has chosen to decorate our lives with the gifts of love, joy, hope and peace! Join me as we reclaim Christmas by celebrating God who through Jesus Christ is now with us!
So what is stopping you?
What is the perfect Christmas idol that you need to let go of?