In a conversation with an individual recently, she described all the preparations still needed at her house. She needed to wrap the gifts, get a ham, and make cookies… all around her work schedule and just a couple days before Christmas. When I asked if she was hosting a large group, she said, “No, just our family. But, I want it to be the perfect Christmas. I want it to be something our kids will remember.”
What constitutes the “perfect Christmas?” In our mind, we probably think of a country house in the hills. We think of snow with family members all arriving just in time on Christmas Eve. The house looks worthy of Good Housekeeping magazine, the food is wonderful, and everyone made it home on time. The tree is huge with dozens of perfectly wrapped gifts. The house smells wonderful and Grandma and Grandpa are healthy and happy. The children are happy, excited, and well-mannered. Everything truly is “perfect” for Christmas.
However, that isn’t reality for most. Most people I know never experience Christmas like this. They are burdened with broken families, parents with health issues, financial difficulties, and family members away. Some have sons or daughters in the military. Some are experiencing their first “divorced” Christmas. Some are worried about nearly grown children. Some expect to lose their job early in the new year. Some are saddened by the loss of loved ones. Some are just disappointed with how their lives have turned out. Some are lonely.
When I think of my very best Christmases, I don’t think of that Christmas from a movie or our dreams. My very best Christmas memories include times like these:
- Christmas when I was a child included two brothers and a sister. My Dad worked, my Mother stayed at home. We were far from wealthy, but Christmas was a blessing to us. We always visited Santa in our small town. We always received an orange in our stockings. We usually received one large gift, like a fire truck, or bicycle, or car race track, but nothing extravagant. We always visited my Grandparents on Christmas in the country. They had a Christmas tree (cedar tree cut from their farm), but gifts were sparse or absent under the tree. Our “big meal” included game hunted on the farm. Simple, but it still brings back nice memories.
- Christmas with our kids is always special. Their excitement when young still brings a smile. Seeing them give gifts to others was special. Going to church service together has always been important and memorable — we still laugh about things that have happened at Christmas Eve services. Spending time with them now is wonderful. Every year we look back at these times as perfect for us.
- Remembering loved ones from past Christmases now gone… my parents, my father-in-law, and friends. I remember some of those experiences like they happened just last year! I think of those times every year.
- Those first Christmases with my new wife. We were barely getting by financially as college students, but that little Christmas tree in our small mobile home was the “perfect Christmas” to us.
The “perfect Christmas” doesn’t come with that dream home in the country in the snow. It doesn’t come from the gifts, the wrapping, the food, or even who was able to be present. The “perfect Christmas” comes from the warmth in your heart celebrating the “perfect Gift” — the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Only Jesus can bring that “perfect Christmas” we all seek.
So, today, let’s celebrate the One and Only Savior of the World. It is only through Him that we can have a “perfect Christmas.” And, let’s share that love that comes from Him. Let’s seek those hurting or sad or lonely that need a call, a visit, a text, or some expression of our love. Let’s not let anyone look back on this Christmas and say that no one cared. Let’s share the “perfect Gift” that brings the “perfect Christmas” with them this wonderful day!