It’s Just a Day

As a young family, we would open presents on Christmas morning and then scurry off to both sides of the family. After a few years, this became so burdensome and both my mom and my mother-in-law offered to move their gathering to a different day. “It’s just a day.” Our hearts were tremendously blessed by the flexibility of our parents and I determined to do the same when my time came.

Well, my time has come. Christmas will be a different affair for us this year. For the first time we won’t all be together during the holidays. And for the first time we won’t have our Christmas celebration on Christmas Day. And while I will especially miss our daughter and her family, I totally understand their decision to stay home every other year. And, in fact, I am glad they have made that choice for their own little family. Thankfully, the examples of our parents showed me that it can’t be about me but it must be about what is best for others.

But I’ve been thinking a bit about how big of a deal we make “family” this time of year. Christmas is no longer about Jesus to most people. It’s about love and good will. It’s about romance (thank you, Hallmark). And it’s about family. And while most of us have plenty of good will and have simply given up on the romance, we do still have this longing for the perfect family.

But what if you don’t have a family? Or yours is broken? Or super stressful? Or ill? Or part of yours is missing or gone on to heaven?

Most of us have something that messes up our ideal dream of family at Christmastime. We live in a fallen, sinful world and life just isn’t ideal. Perhaps we have expectations that we shouldn’t have. Perhaps we are focusing on the wrong thing.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. I am guessing many of you are living with unbearable hurt due to a tragic loss this Christmas. Some of you will probably do a lot of pretending, giving the impression that your marriage and your family are okay when they just aren’t. Some of you will face uncomfortable moments of conversation with angry or abrasive relatives that carry chips on their shoulders. And others of you will be alone, for many different reasons.

But it’s just a day. It’s one day out of the rest of year. Yes, it’s precious to get together with family. Family is a true gift from God. But it’s not the most important gift from God. Not even close.

God sent His Son into the world. He began humanity as a tiny baby laid in a manger. But that perfect baby grew up to be the perfect Man, a Savior who would die for you and for me so that we could be reconciled with God and have eternal life. An additional blessing included with God’s precious gift to us is also to provide us hope and joy and peace in this life.

But instead of finding our hope and joy and peace in Christ we often turn to other things. And one of those things that is most tempting to turn to for most of us is our families. But family will always disappoint. Because it’s made up of a bunch of sinners who won’t live forever.

So, whatever our circumstances may be regarding our families, may we remember to face our challenges with Christ as the center, instead of our feelings. May we take one step at a time and faithfully serve Christ in each and every moment. In the hard conversations; in the feelings of loneliness, grief, and loss; in the midst of those old familiar feelings that come boiling to the surface whenever a certain person draws near; and in the midst of the changes that inevitably come as the years pass.

Christ will not disappoint. He alone will not disappoint. If we abide in Him, He will abide in us. Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:1-5).

So may we keep our eyes focused on Christ this Christmas and all through the year. Because, after all, Christmas is just a day.

3 thoughts on “It’s Just a Day”

  1. Beautifully put! We were there too when our children were young. I wish we had made some of those choices earlier, to limit our “have to visits” and outings. I know it was stressful for all. Just last night I heard from a friend saying her mother had passed away, the fourth mom of friends and coworkers ) who died within the last few days. So Christmas will be very different for those families. The reminder to keep the focus on Jesus, God’s gift to us, is just right. Have a blessed Christmas!

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