Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to be such a busy time. I have often wished there were a few more weeks in between the two holidays. I spend time planning the big Thanksgiving meal I prepare for my family and then Christmas seems to sneak up on me. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those organized persons who starts preparing for Christmas before Thanksgiving even arrives. I find myself in a rush to complete all the “things” that go with Christmas. The decorating, the shopping, the cooking, the church events and family get-togethers all compete for time.
But while I was thinking about all of this, I began to think about those who have other more important issues to deal with. There are some that are struggling with the loss of a loved one. They are facing the holiday with sadness because it will not be the same for them with that special person gone. There are those who are struggling with major illnesses and their time is spent receiving treatments, going to doctor visits or unable to get around at all. There are some who have no family and will spend the holidays alone.
There are some who are financially unable to provide basic needs for their families, much less extravagant gifts. Our church recently had an event called Clothing the Community. The public was invited to come in and pick out free, gently used clothing. There were people of all ages who were so appreciative of the items they were able to get. Young families with small children were there and it was obvious they really had a need.
Why do we spend so much time on planning and worrying about the holidays instead of observing in our hearts what the holidays are really about? Maybe I’m asking just myself this question, but with all of the emphasis on Black Friday (that now even starts right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner time) and the commercialization of Christmas, I feel like I’m not the only one who struggles with a balance.
Consider Thanksgiving. People will tell each other “Happy” Thanksgiving. For some, the holiday is not happy. People will say “Merry” Christmas. It’s not always a merry time, either. I am always so pleased when some cashiers or people you meet will say, “Have a blessed holiday.” Those people seem to get it. We are a blessed people. It’s time we count our blessings instead of the presents under the tree.
I recently completed a group Bible study on the book of Philippians. This book has often been referred to as the Joy book. Paul wrote the letter while he was in prison. Yet he stressed that his joy and contentment was in his relationship with Christ, not in his circumstances.
I can’t change society. I can’t slow down the pace at which the holidays race by. But I can, and I encourage everyone, to slow down our hearts and minds. Whether we have plenty or are struggling, whether the holidays are happy and merry or not, we can have joy because of Christ. And also think about this. For some people, they may be happy and merry, but have no joy because they do not know Christ. If you fit in this category, I hope that you will accept Christ as your Savior so that you can really experience the joy that He places deep down in your heart. Joy that is present even in the midst of whatever struggle is being experienced. Joy that goes beyond the “happy” and “merry” the world offers.