In the rush of last-minute Christmas shopping, a woman bought a box of fifty identical greeting cards. Without bothering to read the verse, she hastily signed and addressed all but one of them. Several days after they had been mailed, she came across one card that hadn’t been sent, and she looked at the message she had sent. She was horrified to read: “This card is just to say…a little gift is on the way.” (selected)
If this woman thought she was being rushed before she sent the cards, imagine the panic she must have felt after realizing what was printed on those cards. This scene begs the question: Why does Christmas always seem to put us in a rush?
I suspect tradition has a lot to do with it. No sooner do we head into the beauty of fall when we’re reminded once again to get ready, for Christmas will arrive before we know it. Retail stores start putting up their Christmas decorations and merchandise earlier every year, weeks before Thanksgiving has even come. Online ordering is advertized as being more convenient, but timing is also important: You still have to make your selection a.s.a.p. “while supplies last” and before the accumulation of orders slow delivery time down.
Time flies faster as we approach this most wonderful time of the year. While thinking about all the things you have to do—shop for presents, get out the decorations and put them up, find the Christmas tree you want or, if artificial, retrieve it out of storage and decorate it. Make sure the lights work and get bulbs, if necessary. Preparations for company that will be coming: What you’ll fix for the meal; how many to expect; getting the house cleaned up, and so forth. Then, of course, we have to make time for the Christmas parties and activities coming up—such as, the company party, the church or social parties and gift exchanges, or the many school “holiday” programs (formerly called “Christmas” programs) parents and grandparents are expected to attend. And, on top of all this, what about getting those Christmas cards ready and sending them out ON TIME?
All of these traditions can help make the season bright but they also have a tendency to weight us down, adding to all the other usual things we have to do according to our calendars. In all that busyness that builds up this time of year, do we stop, take a deep breath, and pause to reflect on WHY we are doing all these things in the first place? Do we “stop to smell the roses”—that is, do we stop to take a good look at the writing on the Christmas cards we’re sending, so to speak?
Getting caught up in the Christmas rush is exhilarating to some and wearisome to others. Some just love the last minute stuff. That’s the way it’s always been for their family. That’s their tradition. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except unless they send out the wrong Christmas cards. But it can also be wearisome, too—stressful, irritating, and very costly. According to a survey by Healthline, 62% of people said their stress level increases during the holiday season.
At this point, we ponder: Is this what Christmas is all about? Should Christmas really be this way? Need it be a rush in the first place?
Whether we’re in the Christmas rush, or not, it is good and especially healthy to remind ourselves what—or, rather, WHO this time of the year is all about. Jesus Christ is the proverbial “Reason for the season.” He is “the Gift that keeps on giving.” He is the “Prince of peace” who gives us inner peace even during all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid,” (John 17:27, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
If we don’t keep our focus on the Christ of Christmas, the rush will overwhelm us. Then it will overtake us and make us all worn out. And we’ll be setting ourselves up for sending out Christmas cards without realizing what they promised—or some other such embarrassing situation.
Good News to YOU!
P.S. When you feel the Christmas rush, rush to Jesus for he is at the heart of the matter that matters most in our hearts. Here’s Matthew West singing, “The Heart of Christmas,” http://youtu.be/Z3XYaeB22FQ