One Last Christmas Post

Yea, I know - Christmas is over. But there's something that has been bothering me about Christmas this year and I thought if I wrote about it - maybe I'd get over it.

I was born and raised in the East and Mid-West. Christmas was a fun time of snow, sledding, lights, Christmas decorations and very typical winter activities. I have fond memories of going to the "old downtown" where the stores were festively decorated and walking around in the cold winter evenings. Christmas in Southern California is a completely different beast. Usually we have sunny skies and pretty fair temperatures (this year was a bit unusually cold and wet). It's a very different feeling to Christmas.

Recently, one of my childhood friends on facebook asked me, "How do you get into the Christmas spirit in California without the snow and cold?" I understood what he meant. When I first moved to So Cal, it did take some getting used to. Christmas just didn't quite seem right. However, you adjust and eventually decorating the palm trees in the front yard while wearing shorts and a t-shirt seems like a normal Christmas.

But his question bothered me (hence this post). Why should it take certain atmospheric conditions to get me in the Christmas Spirit? And what does snow or no snow have to do with Christmas? Again, I understand his question. Certain rhythms or traditions in our lives is a good thing. There's nothing wrong with that. Cold weather, snow and Christmas lights are a great combination that help us feel festive and somehow ready for Christmas. That's perfectly ok. But does it help us get ready for Christ? Or does it help us get ready for spending too much money on too many people? That's a question we each have to answer individually.

I know this year my family made a conscious effort to be less about the stuff and more about the real reason of Christmas. I like that. It feels good. We didn't spend too much money, but we had a great time with our friends and family. Perfect.

I think this verse from The Message says it best.
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

It doesn't matter if it's cold and snowy or not. It matters where your focus is. Are you focused on external things like presents, decorations, parties, etc? Not that there's anything wrong with those things, but those things shouldn't be our main focus. Maybe we should be more focused on what Jesus did, and continues to do, for us. Maybe we should be more focused on the "unforced rhythms of grace."

I know where my focus is. Where is your's? That's worth pondering about...

PS - I know I won't be missing the January/February blues when it's cold and nasty. I'll be riding my motorcycle! I LOVE So Cal!

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