Christmas is one of those holidays that seems to stretch out over a few days. Whether it’s December 23 or 27, it still feels like Christmas. So even if you’re reading this ahead of time, my guess is that the holiday is in full swing by now. Maybe we’re waiting on that final gift to be delivered and checking the tracking number every few hours. Perhaps we’re making our last-minute shopping list for all of the ingredients we’ll need to make our signature dish for the big family gathering. Maybe we’re cleaning up the spare room because we have kids or other relatives coming in from out of town. Wherever you find yourself in the holiday-preparation process right now, I’m sure of two things: You’re busy, and you have some big emotions about this time of the year.
Whether those big emotions are positive or negative depends on your temperament, background, family dynamics, and a whole range of other things. Wherever you find yourself right now, I hope you know that you’re not alone. If Christmas morning is the highlight of the year for you, there are tons of people just like you. If Christmas morning is a sad, lonely, painful, or overwhelming time for you, you’re not alone in that, either. As a matter of fact, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the busiest time of the year for calls at our counseling and coaching offices. You are not alone.
As much as I love focusing on Christmas Day with all the family I plan to gather with and joy and chaos that a house full of my kids and grandkids will bring, I want to spend the rest of this article focusing not on the day itself but on the reason for the day. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus Christ was born around 2,000 years ago in a small town named Bethlehem. Christians believe that Jesus’ birth and life meant that God came to earth in the form of a human to live among His creation.
The reason nativity scenes are popular in front of churches and on shelves in homes all over the world is because of the beautiful and powerful reminder that the Savior of the world was not born in a palace surrounded by servants and grandeur; He was born and placed in a manger (a feeding trough for animals) because there were no guest rooms available for them. Instead of being born and lauded immediately, Jesus was, essentially, born in a shed (maybe the modern-day equivalent would be a supply closet or some other forgotten place).
Instead of experiencing the lap of luxury and enjoying all of the finest things life had to offer, Jesus spent His time mostly among people who were poor and hurting. You may have heard different things about Him, but Jesus was an itinerant teacher with no home who taught about what some people have called, “God’s upside-down Kingdom.” They call it that because He didn’t advocate for riches, power, or domination. Rather, Jesus taught love, forgiveness, non-violence, and self-sacrifice. That definitely sounds different from the message we expect from a ruler or leader, doesn’t it? This Christmas, I hope you’ll join me in falling in love with Jesus and His message. Following His example helps make the world a different (and better) place and helps families win more often at home.