by Tama Fortner
Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 NIV
Other people do things at Christmas that don’t work for my family. And I’m learning—a little reluctantly at times—that’s okay. Like those adorably cozy pictures of the smiling family, happily decorating the tree together.
Starting that very first Christmas when I became a mom, I dreamed of creating those moments with my own family—reminiscing over special ornaments, drinking hot chocolate with extra marshmallows, Christmas music playing in the background.
Yeah. No. Didn’t happen.
As it turns out, my family doesn’t like decorating the tree. Never has. Never will. Oh sure, they’re happy to help with one or two ornaments, but then—as my son recently admitted—“There are better things to do.” I still take the photos, of course. But I’m just going to confess it here: they’re a lie. They’re completely staged. Yes, (practically) every year there’s a picture of my three gathered around the tree, happily hanging an ornament. But I’m telling you right now, they’re smiling because they know that as soon as the pictures are snapped they get to leave and go do whatever they want.
As with all shattered dreams, it took some time (and a little grumbling) for me to come to grips with that. But now, I enjoy my alone time—just me and the tree and all the sappy Christmas movies no one else wants to watch. But it’s a lesson I took far too long to learn.
What is it about Christmas that brings out the comparisons and the competition? I don’t know about you, but it’s almost like there’s this nagging sort of little tape measure that creeps into my thoughts. It’s constantly whispering, “Do you measure up? If you don’t do that—or this, or the other—then you won’t!”
So I would rush and scurry and “add a little more to” until I was ready to drop—and my family was ready to drop me! Then, one day, I found myself asking, “What exactly am I trying to measure up to? And why? And what if I didn’t?”
That moment was when I began to reclaim the joy of Christmas. That’s when I decided that decorating the tree with a cheesy movie for company was okay. And that’s when I decided to refocus our holidays on the One who should be at the center of it all.
I love Luke 2:19. It’s the verse about Mary pondering and treasuring up in her heart all the miracles surrounding the birth of the One who was both her Son and her Savior. That image encourages me—as I’m pulling out ornaments and memories, decorating our tree—to do a bit of pondering and treasuring myself.
Because it never ceases to amaze me that Jesus chose to leave heaven and step into this world. Chose to be born a helpless infant. To grow up stubbing His toes and banging His thumb with a hammer in that carpenter’s workshop. To be spat upon and crucified. For me. For you. For all who would call Him Savior.
When I ponder those things, that pesky measuring snaps closed. Jesus didn’t come so that I could compare or compete or try to perfect. He came so that I could savor this season of celebration and the wonderful truth that He has saved me.
Will you join me this Christmas in setting all that nonsense of comparison and competition aside? Will join me in taking time to ponder and soak in holy moments with God and family and friends? This year, let’s let it be simply Christmas.
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Tama Fortner is an ECPA award-winning and bestselling writer with more than forty titles to her credit. As a ghostwriter, she has collaborated with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. But her greatest accomplishments happen in a happy little home on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, where she lives with her family and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a footwarmer.
Tama’s newest title, Simply Christmas, releases September 28th from Ink & Willow and is available for pre-order now. Catch up with Tama and all her latest book news at www.TamaFortner.com.
Join the conversation: What things have you learned to do without at Christmastime?