I am in love with Christmastime. Always have been.
I’m just not particularly “good” at Christmastime. Never have been.
I start the season with heartwarming visions of chestnuts roasting by an open fire and Jack Frost nipping at my nose (okay, I’m in Florida, so maybe not, but you get the idea.)
By late December the only thing roasted is my credit card and an endless to-do list is nipping at my heels.
My lofty autumn intentions quickly drown in a meaningless sea of winter busyness and obligation.
An embarrassing case in point:
A few years ago, our church started coordinating a Shoebox Drive for a ministry called Samaritan’s Purse. The idea is to fill the shoeboxes with toys, toiletries and other items, gift wrap and box them for distribution to needy children in Third World countries.
Inspired to participate in this act of holiday goodwill, I eagerly picked up two shoeboxes one Sunday in October.
This is the spirit of Christmas, I thought. I’ll take the kids to the store. We’ll lovingly and carefully choose each item for the shoebox. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. This will be wonderful.
Fast-forward to late November and just a few days before the cut-off date for the shoeboxes.
I realize that with our insane holiday schedule, my Norman Rockwell moment in the aisles of Target just ain’t gonna happen. Nope. Instead, I make a mad dash to the Dollar Store, throw things into my cart as quickly as I can and frantically assemble the shoeboxes the night before. Can’t you feel the Christmas love?
It gets worse.
The next day, I completely FORGET about the shoeboxes. Plum slipped my mind. Too caught up in all that holiday cheer.
It’s official. I am a horrible person.
The shoeboxes actually ended up on a shelf in my garage, where my husband stumbled upon them, not one, but count ‘em, TWO YEARS later!!
Apparently waiting on a shoebox from my family is akin to Samaritan’s Curse.
Every year I say it’s going to be different. But it’s a funny thing. You actually have to DO something different in order for something to actually BE different.
So, that’s why I’m talking about Christmas in July.
I need a game plan NOW. Decisions about how much to spend, which gifts to buy, what events to attend need to be made long before I’m in danger of being swept into the holiday hurricane.
When Jesus was born in a manager 2000 years ago, I’m most certain He didn’t intend for His birthday to be celebrated by piles of debt, mounds of stress and loads of guilt.
This year, I want the focus to be a Person instead of a present. And I want to celebrate God’s grace instead of man’s greed.
So are you with me? Let’s help each other out.
Share a suggestion for how we can start planning NOW to make this Christmas one to remember.
P.S. Just so you know, the shoeboxes finally did make it to the church. Somewhere right now a child is enjoying outdated toys and expired shampoo.