Fair warning: the title of this is misleading. I don’t have a favorite Christmas.
Wait. Before you navigate away, let me tell you why.
Christmas has always been filled with tension for me. When I was a child, I saw kids my age having “perfect” Christmases. In my mind, a “perfect” Christmas was peaceful and quiet - no running around, both parents home on Christmas morning, and playing with newly opened toys. At some point, my “perfect” Christmas began to morph as I became older. I started imagining a “perfect” Christmas that included baking family recipes with my own children, decorating my own house, driving around to look at Christmas lights with my own family... you get the picture.
Surprise, surprise — I’ve never achieved any version of this “perfect” Christmas, yet I’ve always measured a favorite Christmas against this standard.
Truthfully, my “perfect,” favorite Christmas is a highly selfish one. If I had gotten my way as a child, my mom would have been home leading up to Christmas, but I would have taken her away from her God-given calling to lead others in worship at our church. If I had gotten my way as a child, my dad would have been home Christmas morning, but I would have taken him away from the divine appointments the Lord sent him as a police officer. If I had gotten my way, I would have missed the examples both my parents set for me that loving others isn’t convenient, but it’s the most important thing we can do. That’s not to say they chose loving others over loving their children. They certainly didn’t, but they definitely showed me that the callings God gives each of us don’t always match up with convenience.
Isn’t that really a mirror of the real Christmas? Jesus, choosing the inconvenience of earth compared to the comfort and convenience of Heaven, to show us His love for us by sacrificing Himself?
If you really want to know, while I don’t have a favorite Christmas, I do have a lot of favorite Christmas moments, like:
- Being allowed to hang out with Mom and stay up for the midnight service at church
- Watching out our big picture window for Dad to roll up in His police car and be with us for a few minutes Christmas morning
- Making the 20 minute drive to my grandmother’s house that felt like an hour because we were so excited
- Making Christmas dinner with my mom for her father, who had dinner with us every Christmas
- Coming home from work, hopping in the back seat of my parents’ car, getting hot drinks, and driving around to look at Christmas lights
- Making my 60+ year old parents (from whom I rent and often refer to as my “roomies”) stand out on the front porch with me, their 36 year old daughter, wave to Santa and the volunteer fire company as they drive down the street, lights and sirens blaring
- The annual Branham Women (AKA my mom and me) Christmas cookie baking day that now includes my wonderful sister-in-law
- Playing Reindeer Games (attaching a small, plush reindeer toy to the ceiling fan, turning the ceiling fan on, and see who can catch it when it spins off) with our god-daughter
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, I’ll never have a favorite Christmas, but the more I let go of my ideas of perfection, I sure have - and will have - a lot of favorite Christmas moments with the people I love and who love me. And isn’t love really the heart of Christmas?
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” - 1 John 4:9-10, NLT