Yep. Seriously. Quit laughing.
Every year during the Christmas holidays, I shed the "mundane Maci-ness" of my life and expose my inner elf.
Okay. You're right. It's okay to laugh.
I love Christmas.
I love Christmas trees and fat, red Santa ornaments.
I am partial to white lights and only use traditional red, green and Santa Claus-themed wrapping paper.
I love poinsettias.
Yes, I still believe in Santa (and will kick you in your shins if you try and tell me otherwise).
But even more importantly, my precious children hear the bell's beautiful sound (and I will punch you in your throat if you try and tell THEM otherwise).
I love "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (I laugh at the same parts every single year), "The Polar Express" (it is hands down my fave) and "A Christmas Story" (if you didn't want a Red Rider BB gun and weren't impressed when he skipped right to "triple-dog-dare", you truly haven't lived). Classics.
I love the indescribable HOPE that is woven into the essence of this season.
I love that we celebrate the birth of our Savior for more than just one day.
In fact, in true, over-achieving, American fashion, we start celebrating Jesus' birthday a little earlier each year. See, I am an optimist....
There is something truly magical and beautiful about Christmas. Something about this time of year succeeds in transforming grouchy, over-stressed fathers into merry, budget breaking givers. This amazing season inspires busy, exhausted mommies to slow down, bake cookies, over look messes and build gingerbread houses with their utterly delighted children. This time of year brings families together and helps facilitate reunions and much needed reconciliations. It is a time of giving, loving, laughing, remembering, singing, cooking, sharing, reconnecting, forgiving, not seeing and yet, still believing.
Christmas means something different to everyone.
For believers, it is a time when we reflect on the miracle of Jesus' virgin birth. The awesomeness and perfection of His life and His ministry. The necessity and brutality of His crucifixion and death. The ultimate sacrifice of a loving, Almighty Father. And then, we look forward to the hope and redemption that exists because a dead Savior arose and ascended into Heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father and has prepared a place for us with Him. This season is simply a time for us to pause and really focus on what we should be celebrating and living all throughout the year. For believers, Christmas should really be just another day.
For some, it is the materialism of the holiday that tickles their superficial fancy. They delight themselves in giving and receiving. They focus on the beauty of the holiday and not the majesty of it. They experience a "holiday high" and then flat line and crumble after the gifts are unwrapped and the credit card bills arrive. Their joy is short lived and shallow.
For others, Christmas means special time spent with their scattered or overly-booked and growing families. It means delicious meals comprised of Johnny Boy's favorite casserole and Bessie-Sue's famous dessert. It's over-eating at lunch, watching football and then, over-eating again that night. It's a time when they laugh, cry, flip through photo albums and take new pictures. It's a loud, loving, boisterous occasion that they look forward to all year, secretly dread in the days leading up to it and then, they require two weeks to recover from the late nights, emotional exhaustion and culinary mess. Don't be ashamed, you know this is true.
For many, myself included, Christmas is a mixture of all of the above.
I battle my flesh when it comes to Christmas. "Hi, I am Maci and I am addicted to Christmas shopping." That, my friends, is TRUTH. I want to buy everyone, everything. I want to shower our children with things completely unnecessary. I want my tree to look amazing and my mantel to be covered with Christmas cards too numerous to count. I spend HOURS making sure my presents are perfectly wrapped and topped with beautifully made bows. I want my house to smell of freshly baked cookies and cinnamon and spice. I want to make a list and check it twice and remind my kids they better not be naughty, but nice. I resent my "holiday budget" and hate shopping online.
But, with that said, I also want to adopt angels and surprise orphans. I want to bless those who may be suffering and give to those less fortunate. Even in my materialistic state of mind, something in my spirit stirs me and refocuses my attention and heart. Jesus.
I also battle with family during this time of year. Who do we see? Where do we go? How long do we stay there? Do we buy them a gift? Are we allocating our time and resources fairly and equally? It's completely exhausting. And then, what happens? I get mad. When I get stressed, I get angry and emotional. My attitude turns pretty negative and admittedly, I get nasty, and I throw my hands in the air and dramatically proclaim, "that since I can't make everyone happy, I'll just quit trying". Yep. Every. Single. Year.
But even in the midst of my emotional breakdowns, my heart's deepest desires are to spend the holiday with those I love. My wish is for MORE time with all of them. Because time is limited and life is fleeting. Each year, I swear that "I won't go here again" or "I won't go there". And every year, I return. Always. Something in me stirs and I get my perspective back. The Holy Spirit.
Maybe y'all aren't like me. Perhaps, y'all have it all figured out, your ducks are in a row and you have read this and think I am a lunatic. Well, if that's the case, good for you. But for me, Christmas is a beautiful battle between what I believe in my heart and what I do in my flesh. Most years, it's a draw.
And because of that, I am so thankful for Jesus. I am so amazed that one, unplanned, inconvenient pregnancy resulted in the birth of my loving Savior. Hi, I'm Maci and I am so in need of Jesus. I am so thankful that the LORD knew my weakness when He knit me together in my mother's womb and sent His only begotten Son to die a terrible death so that I might one day be reunited with Him in a place perfectly prepared for me in Heaven.
I am so humbled by God's grace, Mary's faith, Joseph's strength, Jesus' perfection, and the promise of this Season.
So, right now, I'm still an elf. But I am also saved and redeemed.
I am a saved, materialistic, hope-filled, stressed out, completely redeemed, imperfect, Jesus loving elf soldiering though another Christmas season. And let me just tell you, friends, it feels really good and really right and I'm really merry--and blessed.
Merry Christmas, y'all!!