By Beth Ann Olesen
“Remember when Christmas used to be fun?” I lamented to my husband this weekend as I watched my daughter tick down another day on the countdown calendar and glanced at my mounting to-do list.
It’s not just the shorter time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. It’s the amount of things we add to our lists and lives in an attempt to make the most of the season.
Class parties to plan. Homemade ornaments that need to be made for the preschool Christmas program. Get-togethers to attend. Items to sign up for and bring to various children’s activities. Presents that need to be bought and wrapped. And then more when I realize who I’ve forgotten.
And then there’s the pressure to give my children magical memories. Cutting down the Christmas tree. Baking cookies. Decorating gingerbread houses. Worth the delight on their faces and their laughter in the air, of course; but the magic is somehow lost in the time and energy and endless clean-up.
And then there’s my desire to help my kids keep the focus on Christ. Advent devotionals. Live nativities. Acts of service to those in need. But sometimes these things feel more like items to check off than moments to sit in awe of God’s goodness and grace.
At this week’s service, one of the worship songs was “Prepare Him Room.” As we sang out: “Oh, our hearts, as busy as Bethlehem/Hear Him knock, don’t say there’s no room at the inn.” Oh, how God used that moment in HIs infinite patience to tug at my heart. To gently whisper, “Beth Ann, where is there room in your to-do list for me? Where is their room in your heart for me during this season?”
I can stop. I can rest. I can allow the gift of Christ’s birth to soak in. Because the truth of the matter is there isn’t really anything to do for Christmas but acknowledge what’s already been done. Christ was born to a virgin. God came in human form, not as a conqueror or a warrior birthed in a palace of gold, but as a tiny, vulnerable son of a carpenter lying in a bed of straw. And He did that for me. With Mary’s final push, my fate was sealed. My future was secure. And when I allow myself to stop and really consider the magnitude of the story and implications of Christ’s birth, I find the magic of the holiday.
Prepare Him room this season. In your life, and in your heart. Be intentional about thinking through the preparations you make amidst the hustle and bustle. Hear Him knock – don’t say there’s no room at the inn. Christmas will happen without cookies or presents or lights. Christmas happened thousands of years ago. We just need to allow ourselves to stand in awe of it.