presents with pinecones and christmas lights
Mary Anne Busse
SG Member
December 8, 2022

It seems to me that lately, Christmas is busy and chaotic and there’s never enough time to get everything done.   

mary anne and emma
Mary Anne & Emma

I’m a single mom to Emma, a freshman in high school. So, I’m busy all the time. I drive her here, there and everywhere—school, play practice, doctors’ appointments, school dances. Sometimes I drive back and forth to school three times in one day!  The “busy” is endless. And it’s not just because she’s in high school. Busy has been a constant element in our daily and Christmas lives from day one. In fact, I remember one Christmas Eve sitting on the basement floor with my brother and a friend of mine trying to assemble not just a cute little play kitchen for Emma, but a train table AND a tricycle! I must have been out of my mind.  

Gone are the days of assembling bikes, play kitchens and train tables. Now Emma’s Christmas list is filled with – you guessed it – gift cards! Shopping and assembly has gotten much easier but Christmas has gotten more complicated! What I didn’t decorate when Emma was little, I decorate now. What I didn’t bake when Emma was little, I bake now. What event I didn’t host when Emma was little, I host now. I’ve just replaced my toddler busy with high schooler busy. Sound familiar?     

But I absolutely LOVE our Christmas traditions! It’s the most wonderful time of the year for me. We bake cookies, send Christmas cards, host parties, play games, volunteer to help others, take a trip to Frankenmuth, and so many other wonderful things. Just because I’m overwhelmed doesn’t mean I should give up on one of my cherished traditions, right? Should I just soldier on through the holidays and rest in January? Aren’t these all wonderful things? 

If they’re so wonderful, why do I feel like I’m not happy; not fulfilled? Why don’t I fully enjoy all the wonderful things we do at Christmas? Maybe it’s because I’m not focusing on the real purpose of the Christmas celebration.   

Get The Wonder of Christmas Back

You see, all of this busy, all of these festivities, is really here because of the birth of one child 2000 years ago. But how do I get that wonder of Christmas back? How can I shift my focus from busy to Jesus? 

When I’m in doubt about important matters, I turn to the great philosopher Linus Van Pelt – yes – Charlie Brown’s best buddy, Linus. In A Charlie Brown Christmas, the show opens with Charlie Brown talking with Linus. Charlie Brown is lamenting about his lack of Christmas joy: “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus.”, he says. “Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I just don’t understand Christmas, I guess. He later shows great frustration with excessive Christmas commercialism and he says: “I guess I really don’t know what Christmas is about.” Then he screams in desperation “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”  

Linus steps forward in his innocent and unassuming way and says: “Sure, Charlie Brown. I can tell you what Christmas is all about.  

Lights, please.  

‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them: ‘Fear not, for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth, peace, goodwill toward men.’ 

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.” 

In case you didn’t know, Linus is quoting the Bible—the gospel of Luke, Chapter 2.  He’s talking about the birth of Jesus, the baby who would one day change the world.  The way Linus views Christmas is overwhelming in its simplicity. Christmas doesn’t have to be about buying the right toy or hosting the perfect party. Christmas can and is so much more. A celebration of the true joy and glory of the birth of our Savior and the promise and hope He brings for us all.   

ways you can focus on jesus this christmas

We may still hunt down the hottest toy and work hard to host the perfect party but maybe, just maybe, we can shift our focus to the real answer to “What is Christmas?” To help us along here are a few ideas to help us bring back the joy and glory of this most sacred time of the year!   

  • Daily Family Time: Set aside some time each day as a family to focus on Jesus. I like to take advantage of the hunt for our Elf, Pickles, or the daily advent calendar candy reveal. Sometimes it’s as simple as thanking God for sending Jesus. 

  • Bake a Birthday Cake for the Baby Jesus: While you’re baking Christmas cookies, bake a birthday cake for the Baby Jesus and celebrate His big day with a birthday party (the kind where we get presents too!) This is a fun way to put your baking skills to use (use a boxed cake, it’s much easier) and gather your little ones to help you. You can use the time to talk about why we celebrate Christmas and create your own traditions: the kind of cake you bake, how it’s decorated, and when you eat it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. The possibilities are endless and delicious! 

  • Spend for Jesus: Did you know that 86% of millennials spent more money during the Christmas holiday season last year than they expected? Of those that overspent, one in five went over budget by $500 or more according to a holiday survey from American Express Pay It Plan. Why not curb your Christmas spending and use those savings to give to those in need at the end of the year? Maybe you could start a giving jar at home and use the money to buy food for a local food pantry. Your kids will learn so much about what’s important this time of year and appreciate the presents under the tree just a little bit more! 

  • Attend a Worship Service: Christmas is the perfect time to visit church again! So many of us have been isolated for so long that we’ve gotten into the routine of staying away.  In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2022 word of the Year is “goblin mode”.  In case you didn’t know about this interesting phrase, it’s a type of behavior that is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations. Let’s face it, folks, we’ve gone goblin mode!   

Let’s come out of goblin mode by celebrating the most amazing time of the year in worship. If you don’t have a church home, come join us at Shepherd’s Gate.  You can learn all about our Christmas Eve services on December 23 and 24  HERE

I hope to see you there!