14 November 2008

oh christmas...

an apple a day.

i've been thinking a lot about christmas lately.
actually, i've been thinking about it for a while now, which is not unusual at all for christmas loving me. but this year, my thinking has been a bit different than other years. typically, my thoughts revolve around gifts to make and give, our family christmas card, where we should put the tree and how many twinkle lights are too many. and while those things have crossed my mind more than once, i've also found myself thinking about other things. i've been wondering about the necessity of giving gifts at all. i've decided to skip the holiday cards this year. i've even debated getting a christmas tree. (gasp!) i'm not turning into a scrooge...in fact, it always has been and always will be the complete opposite. i've just been thinking about the contrast between the sheer simplicity of Christ's birth and the utter chaos our culture has produced all in the name of CHRISTmas. i've struggled with finding a happy medium between wallowing in the excess this american society perpetuates and celebrating the wonder and majesty of an event that occurred thousands of years ago.
a lot of this pondering comes from a financial angle; we simply cannot afford an extravagant holiday this year. but stemming from that is the thought, "do we EVER need extravagant anything (materialistically speaking)?" i can pore over the glossy pages of my magazines that promote perfection, lavish decorations and piles of presents all i want. but in the back of my mind, i'm continually asking myself, "is this necessary?".
the answer, of course, is no.
and i know that. instinctively. without second thought, i know how unnecessary this excess is. but still, i battle with that knowledge. i WANT a beautifully bedecked tree in my living room. i WANT a pile of perfectly wrapped presents resting underneath its boughs. i WANT to serve my family a delectable christmas meal with ALL the trimmings. but just as i'm letting myself think these things, i hear a gratingly whiny voice above the din, screaming, "I WANT! I WANT! I WANT!". and that is, honestly, the last thing i want.
immediately, the words to that derek webb song jolt into my head:
"i repent. i repent of my pursuit of america's dream".
i am, in the very fiber of my being, fighting not only about christmas trees and presents, i am fighting my very sin nature. i'm fighting my selfish need to have every thing my way.
so i guess it's not simply a holiday struggle, though it feels very much that way. it's an every minute of every day of my entire life kind of struggle that seems to peak when costco pulls out its inflatable santa claus'. i'm reminded of my own human frailty...which, when you think about it, is kind of the whole point of christmas, isn't it? Jesus, coming to earth, wearing the skin of our humanity and conquering our shame. conquering death. living victorious. isn't that really what we should be celebrating?
it doesn't make my inner struggle to buy oodles of unnecessary holiday trappings any easier. i still want the picture perfect, martha stewart-esque month of december. but, i suppose if i continue to remind myself of the true reason to celebrate, the importance of certain things does begin to fade in the reality of Christ and His birth so long ago.

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