December, 2016 – Merry Christmas! Really?

December, 2016 – Merry Christmas! Really?

I just love the Holiday Season.  From a child, it started with Thanksgiving.  We would draw the cornucopias, fat, colorful turkeys and boy and girl pilgrims at school.  On Thanksgiving Day, the older ones would watch football games most of the day.  And then ultimately, we would stuff ourselves silly on holiday.  The next thing we knew, we would be all a-twitter about buying Christmas gifts, finding and decorating just the perfect Christmas tree, hanging up decorations, baking Christmas goodies, and getting ready at church for the Christmas pageant.

For my childhood family and as a grown-up, it was a wonderful time celebrating with Christmas parties, Christmas music, the amazing Christmas cantata at church, opening gifts, and once again stuffing ourselves silly with all the traditional foods and treats.  Then, a week later came New Year’s Day.  More food and stuffing ourselves – oh, yes, silly, once again.  More friends.  More parties.  More of everything.

But after the holidays, for many, there comes something else.  It’s called the post-holiday blues.  After all the hoop-la, being back to a state of more normalcy seems to translate into a big ‘let down’, even some depression.  Psychologists say that that is normal.  So, until we get back into the groove, I guess it is some source of comfort knowing that there are others who experience the same thing.

However, when my three boys were in their teens, I began to experience something else.  My post-holiday blues became ‘in-the-middle-of-holiday blues’.  For three Christmases in succession, I fell into a state of depression – right on Christmas Day!  I couldn’t understand what was going on.  I had taught my boys from their earliest years that Christmas was the celebration of the birth of the Savior.  We celebrated Him!  We even looked for a ‘birthday present’ for Jesus before we thought of getting gifts for others!  We had a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Eve – complete with cake, and Jesus’ name on the cake!   I couldn’t imagine what my problem was.  We had put Jesus first in all our celebration of His birth.  What was going on?

While opening gifts on the third year of experiencing a very low spirit on Christmas Day, I sensed that there was more to this than I had realized.  I slipped away from the family into my bedroom and absolutely gushed out, “Lord, what is the matter with me?  Why am I so unhappy?  This should be the happiest day of the year. There certainly is nothing ‘merry’ about my Christmas!  Lord, are you trying to tell me something?”   And then, deep in my soul I heard – I sensed that still, small (but powerful) voice saying, “Dawn, can’t you give Me – give ME just one day a year, completely – and let it be the day that the world has chosen to celebrate my birth?”   It seemed crazy!  But as I knew almost immediately what He wanted from me, the heavy spirit lifted.  I was almost jubilant at the idea.  I couldn’t imagine why the whole world, especially Christians, didn’t celebrate the Christ on CHRISTmas Day!

Then, reality set in.  Uh-oh!  What would I tell my family?  How would we handle what I felt so strongly God had shared with me?  I actually waited for a couple of months, or so, and then approached my husband and three sons one at a time.  My husband didn’t care, and only one of my sons did not like the idea – until! – his friends found out what we were doing and they thought it was such a great idea, that it was then, okay.

From that year on, Christmas Day was really different!   I spent infinitely more time during the day with the Lord than I had other years. We did things together as a family – we hunkered down by ourselves to do what interested us, individually – for sure we had a wonderful Christmas dinner, but there were no presents under our very tall, beautiful tree.  I admit, it must have looked very bizarre to others.  But to each one that we offered an explanation, they kind of ‘got it’.  Didn’t want to start practicing this new, far-fetched practice themselves, but they really understood.

Did we still exchange ‘Christmas’ presents?  For sure!  New Year’s Day became our gift-giving day.  I know that that looked pretty bizarre, too, with all the gifts placed under our tree the week after Christmas Day and, then, not being opened until January 1.  But, it worked for us.  I never experienced that heavy spirit on Christmas Day again.  There came such a peace with my being obedient to such a simple request from the Lord.  And, I learned that we were not the only people in the world not opening presents on December 25.  If there is a gift to be given in Eastern Europe, it is done on January 7.  On Christmas Day, Romanians spend most of the day in church.  I’m thinking – isn’t that the way it should be?  I would be delighted for the rest of my life to worship the Tiny Babe, Infant King, Savior! – on His ‘birth’ day – and in church.  It truly is ‘all about Jesus’!

‘He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted.’    – Isaiah 52.13b