by Sue Likkel
The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 NIV
Full disclosure: when the leaves on the trees blow away and my chunky sweaters come out, I think of Christmas….tasks. Yes, Christmas tasks. I wish I could say that I think of celebrating Jesus’ birthday but usually, it’s the lists– of items to purchase, food to make, and events to host.
Even though my Christmas’s are more toned down than most, I can still get caught up in a season I find very distracting, taking my eyes off the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Two Christmases in particular recalibrated my priorities.
One year we had the privilege of spending Christmas in the Midwest with our son on the occasion of his wedding. After a long flight and various modes of transportation, we sat on the floor of a tiny apartment, eating our first home-cooked meal in a few days.
With a strand of lights taped to the wall and a scrawny, mini tree leaning on an end table, the trappings were thin, but we were so happy. We’d spent more time apart than together in the last few years and these three days were precious to all of us. Mostly, we wanted to reconnect, and there among us was our Jesus, smiling and eating with us.
Another year, my mom died on Christmas day. People were there, supporting, listening, encouraging. No one said they couldn’t come because it was Christmas; they knew their presence was important. Jesus was there, too, arms around shoulders, taking a quiet walk with those who couldn’t believe what had just happened.
When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate nor fully understand the doe-eyed look my mom gave us kids when we were all home for Christmas. Now I do.
Nothing underlines the importance of your people like losing one or having them absent either physically or emotionally. I get it. Just their presence is enough for me. Sure, we’ll still exchange gifts, but their gift to me is just sitting in the living room watching the big game, making a mess in the kitchen while making cookies, or wrapping presents with the music cranked up.
I’ve come to realize that we just want relationship for Christmas. That’s exactly what Jesus offers us: relationship.
My best gift to my Lord is acknowledging my gratitude to Him through the joy I experience with my family and others I love. It’s a gift back to Him that I can give every day. Whether I have another lean Christmas, a more sumptuous one, or a quieter, lonely Christmas, Jesus will be there on my couch, in my kitchen, tasting my cookies.
Some years, circumstances force us to do Christmas differently. Life still happens at Christmas – someone’s in the hospital, the flu wipes mom out, or a job is lost. Thankfully, that baby in swaddling clothes is there for it all.
The joy of togetherness after miles of travel, the grace to weather a financial storm, the fortitude of managing family stress…baby Jesus gets the credit for it all.
He doesn’t care much if we spend $70 or $7,000. What He cares about is our glorifying Him and celebrating His life through loving the people we’re with. And no matter where I am or who I’m with, I’ll follow my mom’s lead. Jesus and I will look at them doe-eyed, too.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Sue Likkel is a reader, writer, speaker, and teacher. A lover of words, she has spent decades in the classroom teaching English to middle and high schoolers. A child of God, she’s humbled and grateful for all He has done for her, like guiding her through challenges and blessing her with rich experiences. Native to Michigan but residing most of her life in the Pacific Northwest, she enjoys both the beaches and mountains with her husband, kids, and grandkids.
Join the conversation: What is your biggest priority this Christmas season?