Advent Week 3: Christmas present

This year will be the 32nd Christmas I will be celebrating in my lifetime. I remember bits and pieces of past Christmases, mostly fond memories – of family, food, presents, laughter, and celebration. In fact, the memories are probably sweeter in hindsight than they actually were at the moment as I have a tendency to romanticize the past.

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Magadia family Christmas 2013 – the last (and so far only) time Nick and I have spent Christmas with my side of the family

I also look at our tree and dream about future Christmases with many more presents, ornaments, family members and friends, and imagine how wonderful that would be – truly celebrating Christmas with my loved ones instead of portraying an image of a Christmas celebration over 50 times between Thanksgiving and Christmas day with people I might never see again.

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I would have added a picture of this year’s cast if we had one but you get the gist

I don’t know about you, but it’s easier for me to either drift towards nostalgia or a fantasized future, than to be present right now. How does one remember and be grateful for the past, be hopeful and expectant for the future, yet live fully engaged in TODAY?

I wrestle with this daily, struggling to find validation and affirmation that the choice I’ve made to sacrifice my Christmas season for the second year in a row, is the right one. It definitely has its pros and cons, and inspired by Dr. Seuss and the Grinch, I’ve come to this conclusion:

I search up, down, all around…

Inside, out, and just about

everywhere else – until I remember:

The true Christmas Spirit I seek this December

is found in a manger, humble and small,

unlike the sparkly one found at the mall.

For God to come down in such lowly fashion, 

to sleep in a trough that He might have compassion…!

It wrecks me – reminds me – that Christmas is found

where He has planted my feet on the ground.

Lord,

I’m guessing Your birth wasn’t Pinterest-perfect. It actually sounds like it was probably pretty uncomfortable for You, Mary and Joseph. And I’m also guessing they didn’t have the community they knew and were comfortable with around them to help out either.

Forgive me for missing the gifts of the present when I long for the past or get lost in my daydreams. Help me to focus on loving those you’ve surrounded me with this season, to be aware of Your presence, and to be thankful that I get the chance to share Your love and joy in unexpected ways, just as You planned it.

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