Lights, trees, presents, and stockings. Crowds, shopping bags, credit cards, and bustle. The secret to surviving the holiday season? Rinse and repeat, just hoping you can survive until Christmas Eve. Surely all of the presents and holiday party preparation will pay off, right?!
The thing is, once the presents are opened, the food is eaten, and the wonder has worn off, we’re left wondering “what was the point?”, “what’s next?”, or “that was way too stressful for what I got from it.” We get so busy with the little things that we forget to appreciate what this season is really about. While it’s always nice to receive gifts and appreciate the beautiful decor, there is so much more to Christmas than what is displayed in the store windows.
Back in the States, it wasn’t uncommon for me to bust out the festive decorations once Thanksgiving ended. It was one of my favorite things to do; each year, I was greeted with more glitter than the year before but yet I was always searching for the next sparkly thing to add to my Christmas collection. When we found out we were moving to Austria and could only pack our lives in four suitcases, I was legitimately disappointed. How was it going to feel like Christmas if I couldn’t take any of my decor with me?! So, without any other choice, I was resigned to pack everything into a box, leave it at my parents’ house, and just walk away. I’m not going to lie…that was really hard for me because my beautiful decor was tucked away in an attic corner.
Now that Christmas is a week away, it honestly feels like the holiday cheer skipped our apartment and went straight to the streets of Europe. Sure, we have a little three-foot Christmas tree and some twinkly lights, but there isn’t much to see when you walk into our home. And for now, that’s OK. Next year we will be in a much larger apartment with a living room full of Christmas decor (Z Gallerie or GTFO), but this season has been a gentle reminder that it’s not about what you have, but rather how grateful you are for the things that matter. This year, I couldn’t be more thankful for our lives in Austria and the wonderful husband I get to share it with. But mostly, I’m thankful that I have a Savior who loved me enough to die for me, because I so easily forget His sacrifice and overwhelming love for me. And, as my favorite seasonal song states, what is Christmas if there never was a Savior wrapped in a manger?
While the Christmas markets are picturesque, the food is to-die-for, and beautiful presents are tightly wrapped, there are so many more reasons to love Christmas than the secular view we are so inundated with. This year, may you take the time to reflect on the real reason we celebrate, while surrounding yourself with the things that truly matter.
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all within us we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!