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Frenetically Frazzled

Frenetically Frazzled

I love Christmas. And I have to admit that I grin a little, every time I see one of those emails or social networking posts that take a somewhat mock-militant stance against the increasingly generic and politically correct holiday greetings folks seem to bandy about these days.

Happy-Merry-Hanu-Kwan-Mas!

Seriously?

It’s Jesus’ birthday, for Christmas’ sake! It’s also Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. If our holidays are worth celebrating, don’t they merit full greetings?

Again, I love Christmas. But I’m growing less enthusiastic each year with the frenzied preparations and overblown expectations we seem to place upon ourselves and one another.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, the wonder of the world. True to form, however, mankind has spent 21 centuries making it all about us.

“What do you want for Christmas?” we ask each other. Occasionally, we may come up with an altruistic-sounding answer, such as peace and goodwill. But even as we offer such selfless suggestions, we may still be reviewing our must-have lists in our own minds.
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Are you stressed out yet?

The month of December is filled with baking, shopping, wrapping, socializing and special events. No wonder folks become overwhelmed during this season.

It’s positively contagious.

How many gift catalogs arrived in your mailbox today? Can you count the coupon codes in your email in-box?

We know what we want … don’t we?

Last week, at a holiday party, I heard a young mother say she’d be sending a master list of gift requests for her middle schooler. She's making a spreadsheet of stuff her kid wants from Santa and other well wishers.

“That way, he won’t get three of the same thing,” she explained.

What’s next? Maybe Christmas gift registries will one day become as popular as their counterparts for weddings and baby showers.

In the meantime, we chase frantically from store to store and click quickly from website to website, searching for the ideal gifts for our loved ones. Perhaps we drop not-so-subtle (iPad) hints (iPad) for Santa (iPad), if he’s listening (iPad).

Maybe we even pick up a few extra items for ourselves, while we shop for gifts for others.

Then we hurry home to compose our Christmas letters, choosing our most flattering photos and listing all of the achievements (and none of the struggles) of our family members in the past 12 months. Is anyone impressed yet?
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Some of us grow cynical about celebrating.

Someone close to me told me recently that he’d rather not do Christmas at all. “All the gift-giving just piles on my to-do list, running around to buy stuff people probably don’t want, anyway,” he said.

Christmas is supposed to be fun! Or is it? Why bother, if it’s not? (Read on. It’s worth it.)

When did it become our Christmas, anyway?

Preaching to the mirror, as I am often wont to do (if I’m honest with myself), I have to wonder. What are we giving Jesus for His birthday this year?

“Ascribe to the LORD
the glory due His name;
worship the LORD
in the splendor of His holiness.”
(Psalm 29:2, NIV)

Suddenly, I have an inclination to leave the still-unwrapped gifts in the closet a little longer and to linger a moment. Did I just feel a nudge from an unseen visitor? Maybe it’s time for me to refocus on the One for whom Christmas began.

I’m taking my Christmas list and writing "Alpha and Omega" (see Revelation 22:13) on the top and the bottom of it. Maybe then I’ll remember to give to Him first and last and in-between.

We call Him the “Reason for the Season,” but He’s so much more than a cute, hackneyed slogan.

What does Jesus want for Christmas?

I love the words of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), found in her classic Christmas poem, “In the Bleak Midwinter”:

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, –
Yet what I can I give Him,

Give my heart.
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Once again. I love Christmas. I enjoy gathering with family and friends to celebrate. I am pleased to receive holiday greetings from long-lost friends and current ones too. But most of all, I love Jesus. And that’s enough.

Pass the gingerbread, please. Let’s have a birthday party!

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