Summary: Many pressures vie to shape our celebration of Christmas. The most popular forces that shape our impresion of Christmas always leave us with the feeling that "it’s not enough". To find the true view of what Christmas should look like you must go over to
"What Should Christmas Look Like?"
A mother and father went Christmas shopping one Saturday afternoon with their seven-year-old daughter. The Little girl was so thrilled and enthusiastic about the season. But her parents were just the opposite- - they were so grumpy, so tense and uptight, so worn out with all the traffic jams and lists and bills and long line.
When the family returned home that night, the little girl was singing Christmas carols; but her mother and father were arguing and irritated with one another. Finally, the father, told the little girl to stop singing and go to bed.
The little girl started upstairs to her room; but she stopped on the stairway, opened the window, and looked out. "Why did you open the window and let in the cold air?" Her father asked. "Because I thought I heard the angels singing," she answered. Still angry and tired, the father said, "I don’t hear any angels singing, and neither do you. Now get upstairs, and get in that bed right now!" The little girl started up the stairs; but then she paused and said gently, "Daddy, if you want to hear the angels sing, you have to listen with your heart."
For many people, we can not slow down long enough and we cannot turn down the volume level enough in our lives- - to enjoy Christmas. That’s why the holidays are a burden. The obligations, the guilt, the exhaustion of the season can easily outweigh the pleasures.
Let me tell you about Shelly. She and her husband both work full-time. She insists on preparing the family Christmas dinner for twenty-five people by herself. She spends weeks baking, cleaning, and shopping. Then she’s up at 3 A.M. on Christmas morning to put the turkey in the oven and finish the preparations. By
3 P.M. Christmas day she’s in tears, because she’s exhausted.
Then there’s Bill & Nancy. They chase around for weeks, and finally they have collected everything on their list. They stop for the first time in weeks to have a quiet moment. Michael’s new bike is leaning next to the wall, Sara’s doll house is set up in the corner. But something’s not right. Gradually it dawns on them: It doesn’t look like enough. They have spent incredible amounts of time- - not to mention the money. They bought everything the kids had on their lists and then some. But it just doesn’t fit their image of what a wonderful Christmas should look like. - - - - - What should Christmas look like?
According to psychologists, the Christmas season triggers feelings of loneliness, regret, nostalgia, and failure in many people. And much of the pressure we feel during this season is caused by the pressure we put on ourselves. We feel guilty about not doing enough or not doing it right.
Isn’t it time to re-examine the way we do things? Do you realize that no other culture around this world starts the Christmas holidays in September? You won’t find slogans like "Only twelve shopping days until Christmas" in Scotland. In Spain, Christmas Eve is a purely religious celebration. Families gather before their cre’ches to sing hymns and pray before going to midnight Mass. In Ireland, there are few Christmas decorations, except for lit candles set in windows on Christmas Eve to light the Holy Family’s way.
Now hear me clearly- - - I am not advising that we all go out and become modern day "Grenches"/"Scrooges" - - - I enjoy buying gifts for my family & friends, I enjoy putting up the decorations in the front of my house- - I absolutely love many of the holiday traditions- - -BUT there is a limit to our energy and money and time- - - therefore, we had better be very intentional and careful about keeping our focus - or else- I’ll guarantee you that there are plenty of people who would like to define Christmas for you- - - and it will never be enough- - - because that’s the way it is designed.
It is an important question: What should Christmas look like?
The people at the Barna Research Group took a poll and found that only 37% of adults in America believe that the birth of Jesus is the most important aspect of Christmas. 44% found that family time is the most important part of the Christmas celebration.
Take a look at the Christmas decorations in your neighborhood. Isn’t it true that you can look at the vast majority of them without ever having the slightest clue that the season has anything to do with Jesus Christ?
What should Christmas look like? May I suggest to you- - - that Christmas looks like what happened in Bethlehem. And that we need to go over to Bethlehem to see it. We have to slip away from the mall, and stand back from our multi-tasking, and turn off the TV, and control our own appetites long enough to go over to Bethlehem to see what Christmas looks like.