I wanted to hear about your Christmas traditions. I wanted to tell you some of ours. But as I sat down today to play some Christmas songs on the piano and then went to the kitchen to bake some sleigh and stocking-shaped cookies, I found myself absorbed in all the ideas about giving.
I have seen all the posts on social media about too many things and a materialistic mindset and paring down, and I so get that we really make this holiday into something ridiculous sometimes. And I, too, have always struggled to find the moments in my own mind and spirit that slow down and absorb some real meaning behind it all. I mean, the whole thing is contrived if we really want to split hairs. Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th. There is controversy about what the stable really would have been like. We put a tree in our house and we eat sugar-sweets (as my darling 4 year old granddaughter calls them), and we get a gajillion emails starting in November about the best deals so we can all buy each other more things. We make lists, we throw parties, we dress in ugly sweaters, and somehow we’re supposed to dig deeply enough into all that to think about the relevance of a Baby King from the other side of the world thousands of years ago and how that changes our lives. It’s all kind of bizarre, isn’t it?
So what is it, then? Maybe because it’s my quietest Christmas t0-date, but I did find some depth that felt new and fresh to me. I LOVE the big ol’ pile of presents for my family that is currently under my tree — and we always have loved that part. My kids don’t buy themselves much because they are so stinking responsible. We LOVE to have them feel spoiled. And don’t even get me started on how much fun it is for me to plan crazy-fun gifts for my grand babies. I can’t even…
It’s not over-the-top spending, but it is generous, if I’m being honest. And we’re so okay with that and here’s why. Once upon a time, the God of all things gave extravagantly, so we will, too. And it’s not just about presents. I want to have given of myself, my time, my attention, my talents, my thoughts, my prayers, my LOVE and to have done that extravagantly this Christmas. I hope I have.
These gifts, even if it’s playing a drum for Him, are meant for sharing. They are only good when they get out and become a gift instead of a stopped-up-bottled-thing. I have been given such beautiful gifts this year. I have been welcomed into new and beautiful peoples’ lives at the center where I volunteer. I have been showered with love by a beautiful woman from my childhood who found me after decades and makes me feel seen. I have children that let me know they value me even when I mom the HARDEST! I have a sweet man that sees me at my lows and prays me back up to LIFE. I have my God Who showed up as lowly as possible, refusing to look like a King, rather, a baby at His mother’s breast, a toddler with a snotty nose, a kid who got teased, and a man who was brutally murdered just for Me.
As I stood at my kitchen window today and listened to this song and pondered all this extravagance, I wept — moved to my core.
It’s simple. It’s beyond my comprehension. But it’s what it’s all about. Merry Christmas, my friends. You too, are loved extravagantly.