We’ve been brainwashed. With all the frenzy crazy gift wrapping and gift giving, the feastings and the parties, and just the season itself. We’ve been brainwashed with what Christmas is really all about.
I don’t know how all of you celebrate Christmas, but for me, every year my family on my mom’s side has a dinner at my family’s home. Sometimes both of our uncles would make it, and Grandma would arrive with dozens of the many dishes she had made. My mom always roasted pineapple ham and baked sweet potatoes. And then, after dinner and dishes, we would open the presents.
We haven’t put up our Christmas tree for at least four years. And our “gift-giving” varies each year – sometimes we would make sure everyone received a gift, and other times it would be just my sisters and me. I actually remember sitting in Macy’s with my sisters surrounded by Christmas ornaments and tiny porcelain nativity scenes as we waited for my mother who was waiting on the line for my father’s gift to be wrapped.
In the recent years, my sisters and I have specifically asked for something. (In the past it would be a surprise.) One year it was BJU Journey books from Rainbow Resource, another year, it was Ballet Magnificat! DVDs, and another year, it was board games from Rainbow Resource. Last year, my parents ordered a New York Times subscription for me, but my sisters never got the Scrabble they had half-promised. (Well, they kind of got it, but it’s a long story. We just got carried away with life, and it never really was that important to us.)
What about this year? Well, last Wednesday, my sister Elena got sick. She came down with fever and cough. Then we officially started the domino effect. Esther got sick. The next day, I too. Then on Friday, Rachel. We all coughed, and had sore throats. I had headaches and backaches and I couldn’t read, or go on the computer, or write. I wasn’t even interested in touching a pen, even though I knew I should. All we did was lie on the couch, and feel miserable.
And church was coming up, too, in a few days! We had already cancelled friday prayer meeting. But oh, church! They had planned to have a carry-in meal, christmas carol, and pass out homemade cookies. And the weather – an outrageous seventy degrees!
I am the type of person that struggles with change of plans. I like unexpected plans, for instance, I love surprise guests, and being a one too. But when plans that I’ve been looking forward to change, I get upset. I don’t like change of plans.
So I was praying and begging God to let us go to church, to heal us immediately. Because I believe in miracles. I kept asking without ceasing, because I believed and I was a child and I trusted that God would answer me. But I also said that His will be done.
So when God decided that we shouldn’t go to church, I cried. That doesn’t mean I did not submit to His plan, it just meant that I needed to cry. All the emotions in me needed to go. I hate my habit of trying to act tougher than I really am. I wasn’t angry on God’s decision, no, but while I was crying, I hated myself for crying. Then I asked myself if I was thinking of everything all wrong. If I had been brainwashed on what I think Christmas should be like.
My parents are not buying us Christmas presents this year. We are going to stay home and I am going to make dinner. No, I’m not upset about this, but this forces me to think about my attitude on Christmas. I’m still a child at heart, and gifts are always something pleasant to look forward to. There! That’s my problem. I have been brainwashed. The gifts and gift-gibing, the tree, the lights, the wreaths…all that is not at all what Christmas is supposed to be full of.
Christmas is about Christ’s lowly birth in the manger, and His glory nonetheless, His death and resurrection – all so we might have life and serve Him. That is what Christmas is. Christ-mas, not Gift-mas.
Jesus Christ is given to all of us.
So I wrestled inside last week. Actually, I’m still wrestling. Am I content all the way in my heart? Am I at peace that I am sick and we all must stay home and it’s Christmas? That we missed caroling and church? Last week I cried because I couldn’t keep it in any longer. I had wanted to go to church so badly, yet I knew since it was not God’s Will, I must submit with a glad heart.
You see, I always want to be brave no matter how rough life is. But there’s this tangible balloon that does not always hold all the air in. I’m learning to keep it full with the right emotions – the pleasant, joyful, and godly. Like what Paul said. “Whatever is lovely…think on these things.” But sometimes I feel like I’m a cracked tea cup that has been pieced together with weak glue. I keep breaking apart and trying to piece myself by myself. No one knows when I weep, because I hide it. I even lock myself in the bathroom, if needed. I must be more humble, and let God help me work through my pride. Not be so hard outside when I’m all broken inside. Instead of being a mixture of lots of cornstarch and little water – you squeeze it, and it’s rock, but as soon as you let go, the liquid runs down and liquidizes.
This Christmas, even though it’s rather quiet with no Christmas presents, no tree, no big “celebrating”, I’m kind of glad. That was not what Christmas was supposed to be anything.
Every year we change traditions of the way we celebrate Christmas, but every year one thing will always stay the same: the birth of Jesus. We need to stop being brainwashed with Christmas ideals, and stop and thank God for all the gifts HE has given us. Even if we’re sick and can’t go anywhere. I don’t need presents. Because if you think about your past year, and I think about my past year, we’ve been getting “Christmas gifts” from the Gift-giver Himself.
So right now, I am going to dwell happily on God and His glory, and remember this past year by writing down the best and worst parts. And start peeling those apples for the apple pies and making dinner with my sister (mom gets the break today!) – string bean casserole, yams, and shepherd’s pie.
So have a Merry Christmas!! May you be blessed like never before!
Okay, I tried. I slapped perfectionism thoughts out of the way and forced myself to write at least SOMETHING. Merry Christmas!! I'd like to know what you all do for Christmas usually. :)