Christmas 2008 is finally over. The dishes have been washed, the wrapping paper cleaned up, presents have been put away and family and friends have gone home.
Now there is quiet, and in that quiet a time for reflection.
For me, the month of December brings with it a to-do list that can only be mastered by a ninja of time management, which I am not. I start the month out with the intention of staying on top of my game. My gifts are bought before Thanksgiving. Holiday shopping lists are prepared and kept on hand. Event plans are penned down before December 1st and the day planner kept open for all to see. But, then we enter December and a snowball of “I forgots” begins to take shape.
I was ready for our nuclear family Christmas events, but I forgot that in the midst of that I had writing assignments due, school functions I was heading up, and physical therapy sessions. Oh and then there was the class party I forgot I was hosting and the cookies I forgot I had to make for the fellowship following the school Christmas presentation.
I took all these “I forgots” in stride. I was overwhelmed, I was exhausted, I cried more than once but I was able to stay the course. That is until the Titanic of the “I forgots” was remembered. We were traveling out of state the weekend before Christmas not to return until the night before Christmas Eve. That’s right. The weekend when Christmas meal shopping is done and the last minute details are taken care of (including wrapping presents); I would be out of town.
It wasn’t that I forgot we were traveling, I forgot when we were traveling. So, the night before the trip while we were packing, I was listing everything that had not been done and could not be done now that we would be out of town, including the purchase of a turkey for our Christmas meal. By the time midnight rolled around and the last suitcase was zipped, I had sworn off all future holiday travel.
I must admit this declaration of travel free holidays brought with it a sort of relief. Knowing this would be the last time I would be drowning in “I forgots” with no time to remember made the trip north quite bearable. Well, it would have been bearable had the Lord quit trying to convict me. I wasn’t listening though so it was okay.
We reached my in-laws house and by the second day, something had changed. I was no longer drowning in “I forgots”. I was embraced by the love of family.
You see, I love my husband’s family. In fact, I have no problem calling my husband’s parents Mom and Dad because I love them as a Mom and Dad. They are my second parents and I know they are gifts from God.
Although I was basking in my family’s company, I still held my declaration of “no more holiday traveling” in my heart. And, the Lord was still convicting me.
On the third day of our visit, I was sitting in the living room talking to Mom. We discussed family and society. It seems a lot of her friends would be alone this Christmas because their children were too busy to take the time to travel home. More than that, we discussed how the view of “family” in society’s eyes has degenerated over the years. Where children once cared for their elderly parents, now it’s common to turn them over to nursing homes and visit when it’s convenient.
Our conversation took a personal twist when I learned that some of our own family members have become too busy to invest in family. Tears welled in Mom’s eyes and my heart broke.
When did I forget the true gift of Christmas? God invested in us when he sent His only son to this earth. That birth was a gift to us. That gift grew up and Jesus spent his life investing in people. Why would I take that gift and turn it towards selfish things. Is wrapping presents, cleaning the house before Christmas morning and shopping for our holiday meal more important that the investment into the lives of family?
As I finished talking with Mom and walked back towards our room, I repented.
Lord, please forgive me for my selfish declaration of no more holiday traveling. Please forgive me for putting my to-do list above your to-do list. Thank you, Lord, for my family. I treasure my time with them and will always stop what I’m doing to invest in them for investing in your people is my gift to you.
For the first time in weeks, peace flooded my heart. The “I forgots” faded into the background and Christmas looked a whole lot brighter. As I entered our room, my cell phone beeped with a text message from a friend whose family would be dining with us Christmas day. She asked if we had bought a turkey yet. Still covered in peace, I replied no. “Good” she wrote back. Her message went on to say her neighbor had just given her an 11 pound turkey for us to eat on Christmas day. That’s right. A free turkey delivered to my friend’s door for us to cook on Christmas day. I didn’t have time to get a turkey. God did.
December is busy. With school-aged children and everything else life has to offer, it’s the nature of the holiday. But, I will never again place that busyness over my family. For the true gift of Christmas is expressed through the love we share with each other. I love you Mom and Dad and although I’ll see you many times throughout the year, I am already excited about next Christmas.