Christmas Overboard

_DSC0683Me: Woof, Christmas is exhausting.

Husband: Christmas is always going to be exhausting if you keep doing big projects.

Me: But I have to do big projects. My mom did big projects. So I have to do big projects.

Husband: I know. I look forward to having our own little daughters with their own little issues.

This exchange really happened. Just the other day. And it’s rather telling. Indeed, I have a tendency to go overboard with Christmas activities. For example, I am currently sitting in my pjs at 2pm on the Saturday before Christmas watching the Rick Steve’s Christmas in Europe Special. I just finished assembling treats for neighbors–but not just any treats: white chocolate bark with passion fruit caramel swirl, dark chocolate bark with almonds and pumpkin seeds, chocolate-covered pretzels, gingerbread, and Lintzer cookies with my aunt’s homemade jam. _DSC0685We ran out of the Rice Krispie Treat wreaths last week after the cookie making party when our church friends came over to decorate cookies, drink mulled wine, and watch Muppet Christmas Carol. We hosted that party the day before Josh’s family (13 people) came up to go see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Music Box Theater where we all rang our bells for Clarence and hissed at Mr. Potter.  After the show, we went out with his family to Julius Meinl, an Austrian cafe, for tea and spaetzle. Josh and I afterward proceeded to the Moody Church Christmas festival to hear their full orchestra and choir sing the Christmas favorite hymns.

And this just the tip of the iceberg. There are still carols to be sung, presents to be purchased and bequeathed, movies still to be watched. We’ve already watched a half-dozen movies, attended three parties, ate sausages at the Chicago Christkindlmarkt, decorated our apartment, and a whole bunch else. We keep track of it all here on our idea board. _DSC0691

I know a lot of folks go nuts with activities this time of year with traditions, but I had an interesting exchange yesterday that forced me to remember why we go so nuts. A friend of mine, having not grown up with any Christmas traditions, was struggling to see the point of all the Falaladerol (I made that up!). Yes, she was, in fact, looking for the true meaning of Christmas–cue Charlie Brown and Linus! I reflected that when it comes down to it, many of the traditions we have we celebrate for tradition sake, and it is so easy to get lost in them. It is also easy to get overwhelmed and make ourselves sick (last year I was sick for the 3 weeks after Christmas). We can get to the point where we feel like we are going through the motions. We might want to punch someone if they sing Frosty the Snowman one more time. But take away the nostalgia and the commercialism and the red-nosed reindeer and what do you have? The annual reminder of how our sovereign king came into the world and promised us everlasting joy, peace, and freedom from suffering; a light in the midst of the darkest time of year. I am happy to go overboard for such a king.

Merry Christmas to all! I leave you with the lyrics of O Holy Night to remind us why we stretch ourselves so thin every December:

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

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