It's here! Christmas 2016 is upon us. Are you ready? I am. I must say this is one of the most relaxed holiday seasons I've ever had. In the midst of it all, we celebrated four December birthdays here which usually makes things even crazier. For some reason, it didn't this year.
Perhaps it is the list I have carefully kept up on: what’s ordered, what needs to be wrapped, what is for birthdays and what is for Christmas, what food do I need to make for each party and when I will make it. I have always been a list maker, but this year I have been meticulous!
Honestly, I have no idea how I ever kept it all straight while I was drinking. Sometimes I didn’t. There were times I had to unwrap gifts because I wasn't sure if they had the right name on them. I am never going back to that fuzzy brain. Now when I screw up I just say, “Whatever, I’m old.” Works for me.
The holidays are so much better sober. I enjoy talking to people at parties, my eyes often well up with tears when my family is together and I am completely present with them. If you can drink responsibly during the holidays more power to you. Most often though, there is someone in your midst who can’t, which always ends badly.
Unfortunately, the holidays can be really hard for someone with a drinking problem. The social anxiety is at an all time high and we use alcohol to ease it. I've known quite a few family get-togethers that ended badly because of alcohol. Including my own.
I have not been able to completely erase the pain of that night. It is something I just have to live with. But we have moved on, I have forgiven myself, and so has my family. We have all moved past that “one Christmas” and I love them even more for that. It is the best gift they have ever given me, grace and forgiveness.
Speaking of gifts, I don’t care how old you are, opening presents is still the most popular part of Christmas. I know it’s my favorite! I love to give the gifts as much as I love to receive them. It is a part of the whole Christmas package - this present thing. Giving to those in need, and the ones you love, is so rewarding.
Imagine this scenario. There is a huge gift under the tree, it is beautifully wrapped and it has everyone's name on it. It is screaming to be opened! It is very obvious there under the tree, but everyone ignores it. Opening clothes, toys, books, jewelry, and whatever else has their name on it instead. Until there is that one single gift left under the tree.
Finally, we open God’s gift to us. Inside there is a note: “Dear Child of Mine, I give you the gift of my son. His name is Jesus. I sacrificed him for you to be saved from your sins.” Jesus means God saves.
That’s what Christmas is all about. The sacrifice that God made by sending his son to save us. What sacrifice did I make in my gift giving? Time and money, but that’s about it. Nothing that even remotely caused me as much pain as to sacrifice my son. I have a son and I could not imagine sacrificing him for anything or anyone. That may seem kind of harsh, but it is the truth.
So I encourage you this Christmas to make sure to open the best gift of all: Jesus’s Love.
How do you do that? Well, you can sing happy birthday to Jesus. Try extending love and grace to someone who needs it, even if you don’t like them. Read the Christmas story together. Attend a Christmas service. Spend some time alone thanking God for sending his Son to save us.
Is the rest okay? The presents, parties, and food? Of course it is, but just remember what and why we are celebrating in the first place.
Then, on December 26, there should not be a letdown of any kind that Christmas is over. God's gift is ongoing and lasts forever. In time, all other gifts will be forgotten and useless but not this one.
Merry Christmas to you and your Kin,