How to Really Save this Christmas (and we’re not talkin’ Black Friday)

Black FridayFor the past few days I’ve been hearing this voice. Two voices, actually. One that sounds kind and gentle, sort of like a best friend and another that sounds demanding and anxious, like the voice of a stressed out boss.

I know this sounds a little crazy but I’m also pretty sure these dueling voices are heard by each of us at some point during the holiday season.

As I write this post Thanksgiving is just two days away. I love Thanksgiving and all that goes with it. The family. The love. The FOOD! We’re hosting this year and while everyone is bringing a dish to share there’s always lots to do.

My mom and I, we have pies to bake, roasts and turkeys to thaw. My girls have been busy making decorations and of course the house, if not spotless, should be company ready.

The friendly voice in my head keeps saying, “No problem! We’ve got this! You have plenty of time to get it all done. Put on the Christmas music and enjoy baking with your girls. Don’t worry with perfection! Memories and a thankful heart are your top priorities this week.”

But that other voice…that voice that fights for attention. That angry, bossy, voice that won’t shut up until it’s heard…it goes something like this… “Ummm, hello? What are you thinking? Have you seen the living room and the dust that’s been collecting since June? You have casseroles to make! You don’t have time for lunch with your out-of-town-friend. And don’t forget story time. You promised to take your girls this week. They will be SO disappointed if you don’t go…oh and while you’re there, you better do some Christmas shopping before Black Friday sets in. Remember that coupon expires on Wednesday. And one more thing…”

The scary thing is, this voice doesn’t go away. As Christmas gets closer, it gets louder with its endless rants on shopping, spending, gifting, wrapping, planning, prepping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, visiting, and Fah-la-la-blah-blah-Blah-Blah-BLAH-BLAH!

It thrives on expectations and disappointments. It wields its power in the lure of perfection. It strikes with the threat of not coming through seeping its poison into the honest desire for everything to be merry and bright.

But there in the ranting, the demands, the clamoring agendas, the friendly voice remains. Like a friend it is loyal, constant, and true. While softer and harder to hear it never stops whispering the call, the invitation, the offer of peace, and stillness, and calm in the sales-driven, fruitcake, Santa lovin’ storm.

It reminds us that at the center of the Christmas season, there is still a Savior…a Savior who still saves. A Savior who can save us from the holiday madness we’ve created if necessary.

The balance between following the Christmas norm and following the Reason for Christmas is slippery as ice. But friends, it doesn’t have to be so. It can be as easy as online shopping.

Because in the end it comes down to a choice. A choice between two voices. A choice between two saviors.

We can listen to the voice, to the Savior that brings life, that fills every desire, that meets every need. Or we can listen to the voice, to the savior we find in our own abilities, in our cheap substitutes for the life we long for.

There is no shame in wanting a Merry Christmas. It is right, and holy, and true, to seek life and wholeness, and home-spun warmth throughout the holiday season. But this life we desire can only be found in seeking the Savior. By finding Christmas in Him.

There is a quote by Ann Voskamp that I turn to each year when the Bad Boss voice gets a little too loud. I think I shared it last year but it’s worth sharing again:

“Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ.” ~ Ann Voskamp

This year as Christmas comes full force, remember these words and use them. Let them be a barometer, a compass that points you to Him.

And may the full-force of your Christmas come. Not in coupons, sales, and Black Friday discounts. Not in Christmas lights, music, or presents. Not in credit card debt for gifts we don’t need or traditions that set standards too high.

But in quiet moments spent with Him. In popsicle-ornament memories with kids. In the beauty of snow falling quiet to earth. In laughter and a perfectly-imperfect home. In baking that makes your heart sing or in the pie you bought at the store because baking’s not your thing and you’d rather sit by the fire in read.

Let Christmas come in Advent, because He IS coming, in beauty, in peace, in love, in joy.

He is coming for us, just as He came all those years ago. With passionate love that turned the world upside down. That made a King into an infant and darkness into light.

He is coming. And He is Christmas.

The only Christmas we long for. The only Christmas we need. The only Christmas worth celebrating.

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