Two Marys Celebrate Christmas
By Julie Morris
“I hate Christmas!” Mary spewed out the words boiling inside of her as she rushed into my church counseling office. “Every Christmas I spend money I don’t have buying presents no one appreciates. And I waste time going to parties I don’t enjoy where I eat food I should do without.” After a deep breath, Mary sighed, “I can’t wait to get Christmas over with so I can get on with my life!”
Mary’s feelings are shared by stressed-out people across the country, and others have a love/hate relationship with what should be the most joyous season of the year. I have to admit that I, to, used to get caught up in a tornado of meaningless activities that brought only chaos. I missed out on the joy of Christmas until several years ago another Mary–my Aunt Mary–showed me the real meaning of Christmas.
That year, Aunt Mary was 89. She lived by herself in the big old white house where she was born. We talked the week before and she told me about a dinner party she was preparing for Christmas day. She invited everyone in the family who lived in the same town—about 20 people, and worked hard getting everything ready. Since I lived in Texas and Aunt Mary lived in Virginia, I couldn’t go to her feast, but I called the day after Christmas to ask how everything went. Aunt Mary’s answer shocked me. She told me that NO ONE came to her party. A blizzard paralyzed the city Christmas Eve, and Christmas came and went and she remained all alone. I said, “Oh, Aunt Mary, I’m so sorry. You must have had a terrible Christmas”, but she replied joyfully, “No, Julie. It was a glorious Christmas! Jesus and I had such a wonderful celebration of his birthday. Just him and me. It was really special!”
Inspired by her words, I decided that next year I would celebrate the real reason for the season like my Aunt Mary.
At the beginning of the holidays the next year I started preparing for Christmas by getting up a few minutes early every morning to have a special quiet time focusing on Jesus’ birthday. Most mornings, before anyone in the family woke up; I played Christmas songs and sat with my prayer journal and Bible in the glow of my Christmas tree. Since doing this has helped me so much to experience the spirit of Christmas, instead of the chaos of Christmas, I have continued this tradition every year since.
It’s ironic that many of us celebrate Jesus’ birthday like the first Mary I told you about. We get so busy going to parties and buying gifts that we forget whose birthday we’re celebrating. We honor Santa Claus and Master Card, but not our King of Kings. Join me this year in celebrating Jesus’ birth like my Aunt Mary—giving him gifts of praise and sharing with others the wonderful gift of grace that he has given us.
Author of 12 books and dynamic motivational speaker, Julie Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the founder of Step Forward www.stepforwarddiet.com, a Christian weight-loss program and Guided By Him www.guidedbyhim.com, a lighter and easier version of Step Forward. She is The Christian Pulse Health and Fitness Team Leader. © 2009