Celebrate God with Us

Dec 15, 2014

This year, my husband and I put up our very first Christmas tree. This wasn’t our first tree because we were recently married or because this is our first Christmas together. No, we put up our first Christmas tree this year because this is the first time that we’ve: 1. been home and 2. had a home for Christmas.

The last five Christmases that we’ve celebrated have been an adventure. You see, in our family, it’s not just Christmas season, it’s also basketball season- both very important to the family that I married into. Both events make it the most wonderful time of the year! We love the smell of the Christmas tree and the hardwood court, the sound of Christmas music and tennis shoes squeaking on the court, and the site of Christmas lights adorning the house and packed gymnasiums for the basketball game. It truly is the best time of the year! 

My husband and I have spent the last five Christmases celebrating around a basketball schedule instead of a Christmas tree. Some years we’ve celebrated with teammates instead of family and other years we’ve celebrated with Starbucks oatmeal instead of turkey and stuffing. Regardless of the location, it goes without saying that we’ve never had the opportunity to decorate for Christmas because the basketball life never allowed for us to store or move that much stuff every year.

For some people, these Christmases may seem depressing because we rarely had an opportunity to spend the holiday with family and we weren’t able to partake in the full “Christmas spirit.” But then again, that’s what our culture has made us believe. Our culture has transformed this time of year to revolve around circumstances of this season- shopping, decorating, gift cards, end of year sales, Santa and Elf on the Shelf, Christmas cookies, holiday parties- we are inundated with things to do, things to buy, and some other way to make us believe that we can find more joy in the holiday season.

And, even people that are well intentioned encourage us to do things that are within the reason for the season, like giving to others and taking time out of our busy schedule to spend intentional time with our family. While those are great activities to be (and should be) enjoyed during the holiday season, that’s still not the true Christmas spirit.

Christmas is about the Spirit of God becoming man. His spirit coming to live here on Earth to transform lives, hearts, and the destiny of our spirit. What we have dubbed the “Christmas Spirit” has moved farther and farther away from “Christ’s Spirit.”

Don’t misunderstand me, all of the Christmas decorations and festivities are fun, enjoyable, and are an exciting way to partake in this time of year. But, what has surprised me by Christmas these past few years is realizing that these things are not the true spirit of Christmas, nor will they bring fulfillment to my busy and over-holiday-scheduled heart.

What surprised me every Christmas was that regardless of where we were, who we were with, what songs were playing, what décor was hung, or what we were eating, only one thing could make the season brighter and it had nothing to do with Christmas lights. The years that we focused on the purpose of Christmas, to celebrate Jesus’ birth and His spirit coming to us, despite our circumstances, we were fulfilled and joyful during the holiday. But during the years that we concentrated on something other than Jesus, (i.e being away from our families, having to send and receive our gifts through the mail, and not having the Christmas décor adorning our temporary home), we spent the holidays wallowing in self-pity and wishing our circumstances were different.

This year, we put up our first Christmas tree and our 20-month-old son put on the tree topper with the help of Daddy. And what surprised me is that, while it was enjoyable to decorate for the first time, I felt no different than I did when we drove for 15 hours to Austin, Texas on Christmas Day. What I’ve finally realized is that the season is about celebrating Immanuel- God with us- no matter our location. Whether it’s in Austin, in Phoenix, California, Japan, or in Bloomington, let’s celebrate God with us… because He is and let the weary world rejoice!