Counting the Days

We have roasted the turkey, stuffed ourselves with stuffing and mashed potatoes and splurged on apple and chocolate cream pie. We have already laughed at Tim in The Santa Clause 2, and have been serenaded by Bing and Danny in White Christmas. Black Friday has come and gone, and you probably got some great deals on gifts (and even a few for you, right?).

Now we count the days until Christmas (28 days and counting, in case you wondered).

I love this time of year. I love stringing little white lights all over the house, hanging pine roping on the banisters and baking all kinds of Christmas cookies. I make Chex Mix, pop popcorn and drink more hot cocoa than I should. But sometimes I try too hard to make it perfect, to make Christmas memorable.

Many years ago, when Hannah and Sydney were just toddlers and Colin and Riley weren’t even a twinkle in our eyes, I let a Hallmark commercial ruin Christmas Eve. It was the commercial where the dad walks up to a hilltop on Christmas Even to open the card from his now adult daughter because it had been their tradition to walk to that hilltop every Christmas Eve together. Ok, I cried. Then I decided we needed a tradition like that. I convinced Mike of my plan. We decided that we would decorate a Christmas tree back in the woods on our farm where no one could see it but Jesus as a way to honor Him on Christmas Eve.

I spent a month stringing popcorn and cranberries, because we all know how helpful toddlers are with that stuff. I bought battery operated lights, and even a star for the top. On Christmas Eve, we bundled the girls in their snowsuits, and drove up to the woods in our old Jeep with all of our decorations in hand and hope in our hearts.

It was cold that year, bitter cold. And the Jeep did not have a working heater. Let’s just say it was not a Hallmark moment. We got to the tree and Mike hopped out to decorate it. I stayed in the car with the girls to keep them warm. After five minutes, their noses were red, they were both crying, and Mike was frustrated and freezing. He tossed the rest of the decorations in a heap on the tree, we called it quits and drove back to the house for some warm hot cocoa.

We can laugh at that memory now, but it was a frustrating experience at the time. You see, I got all wrapped up in the trivial stuff. I was counting on my own plans to make Christmas special, as if decorating that tree in the woods would make Christmas what it was meant to be.

I had forgotten that Christmas was already decorated by God, in the beauty of a lowly manger that was not strung with little white lights, but brightened by the gift of the Baby who came into this world to save us all.

And though there is nothing inherently wrong with decorating your home, baking, shopping and creating family traditions, we do need to remember that Christmas is beautiful because of Jesus, not because of anything we do.

So go ahead and decorate your home, hang white lights and bake delicious cookies. Just remember what Christmas is about. And as you count the days until Christmas, remember to make those days count.

Posted by Trish Berg 10:36 AM  


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