21 November 2014

For the love of Christmas

So I am working on a National Adoption Month post that is morphing into a big, long link list that will need to be broken into separate organized posts. . .which cannot be done while the dudes are awake.  So it will wait.

But this, I feel cannot wait.

I stumbled upon a bunch of lists for "Elf Alternatives" yesterday.  And the absurdity of it just hasn't left me.  The online Christmas wars give me a lump in my stomach.

There are a million ways to celebrate Christmas.  Can we just be confident that the way our friends choose to do it is best for their family?  Can we trust that our decisions for our own family are good and not feel defensive about them?



I really do not care if you elf or not.  I don't think 'elfing' makes you a more fun parent nor do I think 'not elfing' makes you a better Christian. {Yes, I made 'elfing' a verb.} If you copy and paste someone else's elf ideas I do not criticize you for not being creative.  If you dream up 25 over-the-top-out-of-the-box elf schemes I will not accuse you of having too much time on your hands. Promise.

Let's give space for our friends to do Christmas the way that works for them + their people and not throw rocks if it looks radically different from our own Christmas traditions.

If a friend laments about needing to find one-more-gift for her sister-in-law, rather than launch into the story of how your family just draws names, look her in the eye and tell her you hope she finds the just-right-gift-in-her-budget + without a lot of stress. This will be a gift to her.

While in the check-out line, turn off your cell phone.  Put it in your pocket or your purse and make eye contact. If the store clerk tells you "Happy Holidays," you smile warmly and tell him that you hope his shift is full of the kindest customers.  This will be a gift to him.

If you hear someone say that they hate Christmas music. Don't shut them down by telling them about how you listen to it year round. Ask them why.  There might be a whole lot of heaviness behind that statement and finding a safe place to unload it might just be the best thing for this person. It will likely be a gift.

While scrolling through FB, if you see a picture of a child with Santa, tell them how precious that child is rather than mentioning that you choose to keep Christ in Christmas and therefore lock Santa out. Also, if a friend shows her nativity set online, please refrain from criticizing how many wise men she has there - or the fact that they are there.  {Believe it or not a lot of us have FB friends that aren't Christians and the online bickering about our differences is weird + confusing.  And also ugly.} Be kind, this will be a gift to your FB friends' friends. 

Now hear me on this, if your friends are posting about all the Random Acts of Kindness they are doing, or if you see pictures of these advent activities that make you whither a little inside because of their grand scale, break out some Taylor Swift and 'shake it off.'  Decide not to judge the people that choose more elaborate plans than you, rather give yourself grace and trust that you are choosing just-right for your people.

Of the millions of ways to do Christmas, the most important one is to see people where they are and give them some love.  Celebrate the ways that we do it differently.  Make eye contact, linger long in conversation. Ask about your friends' traditions. Pray for the things that stress your friends out - even if you have chosen to unload those things so you won't be stressed. Look for ways to be a gift to someone else.  Refrain from posting articles that condemn other people's Christmas traditions. {Please for the love, refrain!}

It isn't as complicated as we tend to make it. Love God. Love people. Especially at Christmas.

"He said to him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

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