As the Christmas shopping frenzy gets wilder and wilder I like to go to a mall, find a good parking space, and then sit in my car with my reversing lights on, watching the cars stopping and waiting and waiting to get my space (just kidding). If you do go into the malls and look at the craziness of all the shoppers in a credit-card-driven froth of consumer-lust, I find that the maddest craziest thing of all is – I am there in the middle of it. I am as guilty as anyone else, spending more than I can afford. But you know what? It is actually one of the great things about Christmas.
Every year before Christmas I get asked how to avoid Christmas stress. I am so glad that I did that post-graduate degree in Hypocrisy because I say, “Don’t over spend. Make a budget and keep within it.” That might be excellent advice, but I don’t stick to it. Because a big part of my heritage, inherited from own slightly whacky parents is, “Practicality is fine, but don’t let it get in the way of love.” Love is a fantastic reason for extravagance. If I was a truly practical person, I wouldn’t even have had children, let alone celebrate Christmas. The eating, the music, the decorations, the greetings, the presents – none of it is logical, and all of it is wonderful.
The real treasure I see my kids getting from Christmas is the love of family, making time to get together even when that isn’t convenient or practical. And a love and concern for others (by helping out and giving to charities), even when it isn’t convenient and practical. One other treasure as well – my kids have a love for Christmas. In a life that will have lots of work and stress and problems – each year they will have the oasis of an inconvenient and impractical Christmas, and it will always make them smile.
Nothing I can see about the original story that Christmas celebrates is about practicality or convenience. What’s convenient or practical about being born in a stable? The whole thing is about excessively generous love that spills over into joy. I hope that’s the type of Christmas you and your family have this year and every year.