There’s no time of the year when people think more about home than at Christmas. Our celebration of the birth of Jesus will likely include time gathering with family and friends over a meal, around a Christmas tree, or at a party. Strangely, we nostalgically long for those gatherings … but when they actually happen they can become a nightmare as people get on one another’s nerves.A scene from the movie “Christmas Vacation” comes to mind. The character Clark Griswold, played by Chevy Chase, has dreams of having a “most fun-filled old-fashioned family Christmas.” Clark invites his wife’s parents, his own parents and an aunt and uncle to spend the holidays at the Griswold house in Chicago. Clark is obsessed with orchestrating everything perfectly during the holiday season, but things start falling apart with the unexpected arrival of dead-beat Cousin Eddie and his family from Kansas. Before long, Clark finds that the safest and most peaceful place to be is on his roof fixing Christmas lights.
So how do you keep the holiday gatherings from driving you up a Christmas tree?
First, heighten your devotion and worship of God. He has given us the magnificent gift of His Son. Determine that your worship will never be more fervent than when you ponder the glorious thing God did in sending His Son to be the Savior of the world.
Second, lower your expectations of holiday events. More than likely things will not be as bad as you dread they will be. And they will likely not be as great as you hope they might be. Clark Griswold in “Christmas Vacation” set himself up for a real let-down when everything didn’t come off as he had planned. It’s little wonder that after Christmas many people find themselves depressed.
No gift or gathering can fulfill us like an intimate relationship with God. Don’t expect that the Christmas holiday will somehow make everything okay. Only God can do that.
Third, lengthen your patience with others. The Bible says that love “suffers long” (I Corinthians 13:4). Inevitably when family and friends gather, someone will say something or doing something that will hurt. Understand that everyone is amped up on holiday adrenalin, and may act in a way that isn’t kind or appropriate. In the words of my dear wife … “Just chill!”
Fourth, deepen your commitment to serve others. I’ve discovered that in many social settings we get in a dither because we are concerned about what others think about us. Conversations become a jousting match to see how quickly we can get the focus back on ourselves. So make it your goal to serve, not just to be served. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ said that is why He came into this world (Mark 10:45). Focus on listening, not just being listened to. Aim to affirm others, not just to fish for affirmation from others. Pay attention to others, and don’t be so concerned about always being the center of attention.
Wouldn’t it be great if this Christmas season we all did as the Lord commanded the demon-possessed man who had been set free: “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).