Do you remember the old Christmas cartoons that were shown on national networks every year? They are considered classics. I have noticed, as I have watched them this year, that many of the people who gave their talent to being voices for these cartoon characters are no longer alive. Still, these old shows are loved and watched by a new generation of children whose parents have happy memories of them. Just this past week, my husband and I watched Frosty the Snowman. I remember as a young child, I would cry every year when Frosty melted in the greenhouse. My father used to tell me, “Becky, you KNOW he comes back to life!” I did know, yet I cried anyway. I couldn’t stop the tears over Karen’s loss of her best friend. One of my favorite lines from that show is when Santa is scolding the evil magician and tells him to go home and write something a billion times if he wants to see presents on Christmas morning. The magician sets out quickly to start writing and as he says goodbye to Frosty and friends, he says, “I need to get busy writing; busy, busy, busy!”
Each year that trio of words fills my mind as I face a daunting to-do list of holiday tasks. There are so many things that need to be done to insure that all have a wonderful holiday. Those preparations start early–the windows, shelves, and ledges are decorated at the end of October. The tree goes up Thanksgiving weekend–more boxes to haul up from the basement. Then there are cookies to bake–lots of cookies. Each family member has a favorite or two and all need to be baked. Often, I find I have to bake several batches of those favorites because they are gone quickly. Of course, Christmas brings shopping–shopping for presents to open and presents to put in stockings as well as shopping for the special holiday meals we have. Christmas Day roast beef on weck sandwiches, Christmas Eve ham dinner and Christmas Eve Eve feast and movie night. Don’t forget that all those presents also need to be wrapped and tagged. And, because I am slightly OCD, each kid must have the same number of presents to open. Even though none of them are “kids” anymore, this is still important to me. Of course, the regular household chores must be kept up with as well–laundry, cleaning, ironing, dinners, dishes, etc… Yes, the months of November and December are busy, busy, busy.
This year, I have found that all the busyness has worn me down. Physically, this is not surprising. Christmas is completely on my shoulders. I do all the shopping, baking, cooking, wrapping, and the majority of the decorating (oldest son helped a lot this year with that last part thankfully). Throw in some health issues and it doesn’t surprise me that I have found myself more tired than usual. What has taken me by surprise, though, is that I am worn down in more than a physical way. I am emotionally spent much of the time. The smallest thing will bring tears against my will. I also have found that I am spiritually struggling a lot these last few weeks. Maybe it’s because my focus has been on all that I need to do physically so that I am not focusing at all on the things I should do spiritually. It isn’t that I don’t think about Jesus; after all, He is the reason for the season in the first place. No, it isn’t a lack of thinking about Him. I believe it is more of a lack of intentionally spending time with Him. By the time I drag my physically exhausted and diseased body out of bed, I am thrown into my day. By the time evening rolls around and the designated chores are done for the day, I am too exhausted to open my Bible and concentrate on His words. This has left me teetering on the verge of depression. I want my focus to be on Jesus, but the world is pulling me into its vortex of do, do, do.
This past Sunday in church, I was convicted deeply of my lack of spiritual intentionality this season. Our pastor read the lines from one of my favorite Christmas songs:
“Then in despair I bowed my head, there is no peace on earth I said, For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth goodwill to men.
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor doth he sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth goodwill to men.”
Peace–something I have been sorely lacking this year. I am busy; I am tired; I am struggling. But, God isn’t dead. His Son is what Christmas is all about. I just need to turn around and get back on the right path–the narrow one, the one that focuses on the reason for Christmas in the first place. Putting the things of the world second to Jesus is difficult, yet it is the only way any of us will ever have peace.
I must go now. I have lots to do. There are presents to wrap and laundry to finish–after I spend some time with the giver of peace. I need Him today more than anything else. I need Jesus to meet me in this mess I am in.