It was January 1, 2015, and I was enjoying the last night of Odessa, Texas’ annual Christmas light display with my family. Crisp, cold air numbed my cheeks as we drove the length of the exhibit, and the sound of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas” drifted into the open car windows. In that warm, fuzzy, Christmasy moment, a profound sadness settled over me as I realized something: Christmas was over, and I’d totally missed it.
A few weeks earlier, I’d accepted a big job with a December 29 deadline. I’d worked feverishly throughout the entire Christmas week, including during a ten-hour road trip (bring on the Dramamine!), Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.
So here it was, New Year’s Day, and I was longing for Christmas.
How unbelievable to think that night so vivid in my memory happened almost twelve months ago! 2015 proceeded to unfold in a blur, and as September rolled into October and October into November, the memory of that New Year’s night visited me more often. I vowed to myself: this year I would not miss Christmas!
So I bought my first Christmas gift in October. The day after Halloween, I cranked up my Christmas station on Pandora. The lights on my new Christmas tree blazed shamefully early in November. I got a head start on my gift buying, attended multiple Christmas parties, and I’m planning another even as we speak. I’ve promised myself there’s no way I’m missing Christmas this year; I’m completely embracing the Christmas spirit.
Or am I?
When I glimpse opportunity for a rare moment of reflection in the midst of all the flurry, it hits me: there’s more than one way to miss Christmas.
Sure, this year I’ve done all the Christmasy things. I’ve bought gifts — family gifts, secret sister gifts, church party gifts, and white elephant gifts. I’ve planned parties, gone to see the Christmas lights, attended the town’s Christmas parade . . . I’ve listened to enough Christmas music to convert the Grinch. But have I celebrated Christmas?
If Christmas is Christ’s birthday, where is His name on my Christmas list? No, He doesn’t need a cute scarf or a Bath & Body Works gift set or a new iPhone. But if this is truly His birthday party, shouldn’t I have a gift for Him — the gift of my talents, the gift of my service to others, the gift of quality, undistracted devotional time with Him? As I celebrate Christmas, I have to ask myself: in what ways have I celebrated Christ? Is it possible that I’ve brought gifts for everyone going to the birthday party, but nothing for the One the birthday party is for?
So I have almost two weeks to redeem myself — to turn Christmas into a celebration about something more than baking cookies, wrapping presents, and wishing for snow. To turn Christmas back into a birthday party for Jesus.
The almighty, holy God in living human form.
The Creator of the universe.
The One so sacred and unsoiled that He knew I could not stand in His presence because of my sin.
The God who wore a human body and suffered the death penalty for my guilt so that I could know the glory of spending eternity with Him.
This is the One I celebrate; this is the One whose birthday party I attend; this is the One who in all the memory-making I cannot afford to forget.
Beautiful friend, celebrate Christmas with me this year. And as you do, let’s be intentional together about celebrating Christ.