faith

Viewing Christmas like Buddy the Elf does

I remember when I first got my Facebook account back in 2009. The layout and usage of Facebook has changed so much since then. I’m pretty sure the first page I ever liked was “I hate mosquitos,” and then hundreds of other pointless pages I’ve painstakingly had to unlike over the years so my Newsfeed wouldn’t be spammed.

Now, we’ve transitioned into the age of glitter beard tutorials, Buzzfeed quizzes with the most random topics, and GIFs. But the greatest addition to the Facebook community over the years has been the creation and posting of Memes.

This is one of my favorite Memes of all time, and I’m sure the majority of you have seen it at some point:

there-are-two-kinds-of-people-when-they-see-christmas-decorations-at-a-store

I am unashamed to say that I am 100% Buddy the Elf in this situation. But it’s true. I’ve always been highly enthusiastic about Christmas, regardless of what point it is in the year. You can imagine how dangerous it was for me back when I first got my Facebook account when I also discovered I could listen to Christmas music online before Halloween.

Christmas has always been a time of excessive holiday music and movies, enjoying peppermint mochas, and other winter activities which Buddy sums up perfectly:

I don’t mess around when it comes to decorating for Christmas. As soon as I wake up the day after Thanksgiving, the tree and Christmas decorations need to be set up around the house. This year, there was no exception.

On Friday evening, I handled the majority of my family’s decorating while I listened to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban playing on the tv (I have been waiting months to re-watch this, people. There’s snow in some scenes, so it counts as a Christmas movie.).

With some of the decorations, I knew exactly where to place them since my mom had placed them there for as long as I can remember. Other ones, I had to guess. Regardless, I was cruising through my task and felt quite accomplished once I had finished.

Later that night, I reflected back on the decorating when my stomach suddenly dropped.

My mom has a Precious Moments nativity set that she displays every year, and it is super cute. I carefully removed the pieces from their bubble wrap protection and arranged the display on our entertainment center’s shelf. I then proceeded to decorate the rest of the house, setting up the Christmas Beanie Babies and snowmen figurines in the window. After that, I took a step back and enjoyed the decorations I had displayed.

You’re probably wondering why it bothered me so much when I reflected back on this.

The problem wasn’t with the nativity set or the craziness of decorating. The problem was with me.

Having grown up in a Christian home and environment, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the saying “Jesus is the reason for the season” pounded into my head. Every church and youth group message in the month of December was dedicated to the idea of remembering this.

It’s easy for Christians to fall into a place of comfort and routine when it comes to certain aspects of our faith, and I realized I had been doing that with Christmas.

During the holiday season, I had always told myself I was doing alright in this area and I believed it. I ultimately knew the purpose of why we celebrated, and I was thankful for God’s gift to us. Yet, as soon as the thought of this popped into my head, it would quickly fade away as I proceeded on with my other Christmas festivities.

I’m not talking about needing to literally meditate on this every single second of the day. But setting up that Precious Moments nativity scene, nothing registered with me.

Nothing. 

If that wasn’t a wakeup call, then I don’t know what would be.

Christmas is the celebration of a perfect, blameless God who loved His creation so much, that He came to earth as a humble baby in poverty. And He did all this knowing that He would live a perfect life, yet sacrifice Himself to be killed on our behalf. We are sinful people who are undeserving of His grace, but He provided a way for us to be able to spend an eternity with Him in His kingdom one day.

I know I’m not the only Christian that struggles with this, but I had never realized how screwed up my priorities had become when it comes to Christmas. Instead of meditating on His gift to us, I’d been believing a lie: that I still had my priorities straight as I allowed my thoughts to be swept away by all the things I had to do that month. I always thought I was doing okay or “better than others” when I clearly wasn’t.

I’m done with going through the motions of Christmas, and I’m tired of putting God on the back burner. Yes, I’m still going shopping for presents, enjoying looking at Christmas lights, and being festive and enthusiastic about the season.

But I am going to make this year different. I don’t want to see another nativity set and automatically think “decoration.” I want it to remind me of the real people who experienced this wonderful story, and remind me of a real God who is patient with me — yet shows me when I have my priorities wrong. This year, I’m ready to truly appreciate God’s gift to me, and I’m ready to stop viewing Christmas like Buddy the Elf does.

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