I wrote the following on my friend Marcia Ford's blog today, and liked it so much I'm including it here today as well:
Sadly, Christmas can just feel like a whole lot of extra work piled up high at a time of year when things already seem busy without mercy. Or, it at times feels like a big bill or balloon payment that comes due tht end of the year--around the same time I have to renew my homeowners' insurance and pay my taxes!
If anything is evidence of how shallow our culture's understanding of God's transcendence and immanence has become, just gaze at how small the manger is compared to the material madness and the stress associated with checking things off of the list.
What I've tried to do in order to counter this--especially this year--is to get the "essential" things done early, and therfore pay more attention to the spirit of the season during the final weeks. I've been striving for years now to simplify things and gradually surrender to the idea of keeping up with everybody else at Christmastime. We still buy a truckload of gifts for our kids, but I'm not getting into fights while standing in line for TurboMan!!! (a not so subtle nod to the great holiday film Jingle All the Way)