Chaplain (Col.) Pete Mueller
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
It’s getting close, so the mail may not get that perfect gift here on time.
The airlines have raised their prices, and vacation/leaves may not be given to everyone. The kids are missing grandma and grandpa. Money is getting tight, and credit limits are being reached.
Too many things left to do, and the list just grows longer and longer. Anxiety replaces joy, and stress has overcome goodwill and peace. Sound familiar?
Too familiar for most of us! So where is that Christmas miracle?
My wife loves to watch all the smaltzy Christmas movies out this time of year. Many are about a last-minute miracle that brings the distant family member home, makes it snow in Miami or turns a cynical mind into a true believer. We get conditioned to believe that we, too, will have a Christmas miracle to bring all the chaos into order at the last minute and make this the best Christmas ever.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against miracles, nor do I doubt their existence and power. I love God’s miracles! But truth be told, most of the time, we don’t really need a Christmas miracle. What we need is simply a refocus, a new set of priorities, especially during the holiday season.
Many times (maybe even most of the time), the stress and anxiety are more of our own making than caused by things around us. We create unrealistic expectations, or worse, buy into the expectations of society around us (especially marketers and advertisers) and lose sight of what really brings us the most peace and the most joy.
Think about last year … when all the wrappings were strewn on the floor, when the special meal was gone, when the excitement of the latest tech gadget subsided. What was it that really meant the most? Wasn’t it time with family and friends? Wasn’t it simply in giving from the heart? Wasn’t it in reaching out to those less fortunate? We let the frenzy of the season spin us up and forget that is not what really brings satisfaction and joy.
Let’s all agree in these next few weeks to not get worried or excited when the “big gift” fails to show up, or all the cards don’t get sent, or the house doesn’t get decorated like a magazine, or the perfect meal isn’t prepared. Let’s all agree to take more time to sit together, read a Christmas story — I know a really good one! — go for a walk, call someone we love, care for a neighbor with less, teach our children to give toys in toy drives, help at a food bank, spend no more money than we can realistically and intentionally set aside, sing carols together, invite someone over, drink hot chocolate, go on a house light drive or see the lights downtown, or just spend time relaxing by the fire. Well, maybe not a fire, but the beach will do!
We can bring our own Christmas miracle by simplifying our expectations, focusing on those we love and doing with much less. The things that last aren’t things. They’re our relationships and the peace we create within ourselves.
This is actually how God wired us and is truly our Christmas miracle!