Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, since I was a little girl. It was about family and food and football and it wasn’t stressful. But as soon as Thanksgiving was over, the “stress torch” was lit. Expectations rose. I watched my exhausted Dad compare the family business’ daily income to the income on the same day of the previous year. This would give him and my Mom an indication of whether or not they were successful. It was never good enough…and it had a direct effect on the family stress meter. My parents owned a retail clothing store. Christmas was stressful. Thanksgiving was not.
I guess this is why I’ve never looked forward to Christmas (which now starts after Halloween…look out, Easter, you’re next). For me, it’s a time of stress, of obligation and expectation, of depleted people giving when there’s little-to-no money, of 8-year old kids asking “Santa Claus” for an iPhone X, of commercials and marketing and sales, the ones that portray your happy life in that new Lexus that you’ll probably never own.
So today, I’m telling my version of the Christmas story. Disclaimer: I was raised going to church, and I still sometimes go, but I didn’t pay that close of attention. I know, a shocker. I like the people. And I like the message…usually. That was your final warning 😊
On to my Christmas story. Many moons ago (an ominous start), there was this cute little dude who was born in a manger (a crib with straw around it), to a virgin (not explaining), on December 25th (a day). They call this period, B.U., which means “Before Us.” This little dude grew to be an amazing man, and they’ve even written a book about him (with many versions that I’m told are each 100% factual). This was not Santa Claus, in case I’ve already lost you. Apparently, some “wise men” showed up the day of his birth and gave him some cool gifts and THIS is how the gift-giving of Christmas began… according to this historical story.
So, our awesome little guy was first given gifts. Why did these wise men do that? (My mind-wandering in Bible study is rearing its ugly head…) To tell him that he’s amazing? To make him their friend? To ensure they went to heaven? I wonder if he would have known and done those things without their gifts? I’m told by my storyteller intuition that he would have.
Their gifts didn’t make him who he was; his inner light made him that man. He was born a man of love, peace, kindness, forgiveness, humanity, strength, and compassion, a man of pure love with an open heart. He was born with the same traits that you and I were born with. He knew his purpose, he knew who he was, and why he was here. He unapologetically revealed his truth to each person he met. He was punished and eventually crucified for doing so. That’s my “in a nutshell” version about that little boy who was born in a manger.
Fast-forward to today. We celebrate the birth of that pure-hearted little boy every year on a day known as Christmas. We prepare for that special day with holiday sales, marketing, lights, and anxious attempts to give elaborate gifts. After all, it’s Christ-like to give gifts, right? Well, not the kind of gifts we think of giving. He didn’t wrap up any gifts with little bows; he didn’t put out cookies and milk for a man who would shimmy down his chimney; he didn’t string lights up around a tree; and he didn’t tell people to buy the next-best thing so that they would finally be happy and content. Nope…that wasn’t him.
What he did give was what he had to give…himself. He gave love…to the poor, the rich, the broken, the weary, the sick, the old and the young…pure love. He gave compassion, forgiveness, peace, connection, acceptance, honesty, and an open heart. He gave the best gifts a person could give…and, in the end, he gave his life. For us.
So, forgive me if I struggle with Christmas. I simply do. It feels stressful. The expectations of filling up the stocking or ensuring there’s no floor-space left under the tree is not what Christmas is about…at least according to this storyteller. During the “season of giving,” traffic is worse, people are stressed, they’re spending money that they don’t have (plastic…creating more debt…more stress), and business owners are gauging their whole years’ worth on the success of their holiday business. It’s becoming clear…I might be a Grinch…I’m not sure yet.
To compensate for my Grinchiness, the author of this Christmas story (uhhh, me) is sending you (and me) the following free, no-money down, one-of-a-kind gifts: Love, peace, compassion, forgiveness, connection, acceptance, honesty, and an open heart. You’re welcome…it was nothing 😊
What do you say? Want in on my free giving spree? Want to help give those gifts, those Christ-like gifts? Like he wanted us to do? So that peace on earth will be more of a reality? Because for me, and remember, I barely pay attention in church, that other stuff is not the meaning of Christmas…it’s not his message. His message was love…toward each person, no matter who you are or your circumstances. If all of those versions of that one book are true, then he wants you to know that his biggest gift you already have…it’s this thing called “your awesome life.” I don’t care what Lexus, Amazon or Walmart says…
Thanks for being you. Peace friend ✌😊
p.s. You can check out my video on this topic: Bah!!! Humbug!!!