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Rider up! The Merry Go Round Is Now Beginning!
What do you do when you are supposed to feel “Merry” and no matter what you do, you just can’t pull it off?
Some years ago, I found myself in just such a rut. The calendar said it was time to be merry. The advertisements on tv sounded the merry alarm even before Thanksgiving.
I’m sure the turkeys breathed a sigh of relief, thinking perhaps Thanksgiving was going to be skipped all together.
Stores and restaurants started playing Christmas songs sung by people who had been dead for years. (Kind of creepy, actually)
People who wanted to assure that Christ was not taken out of Christmas engaged in battles with those who wanted others to be “happy” (Happy Holidays!) instead of “merry” (Merry Christmas!). As the season of peace on earth was upon us, the Merry Wishers redoubled their efforts to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Happy Holiday wishers responded in like numbers. The air was filled with commands to be happy and merry.
But I did not feel happy or merry, for a variety of reasons. Our family celebrations were shrinking, as some family members were no longer on earth.
Some friends insisted on carrying on traditions that had long ago lost their sparkle. It was a “merry” go round (a little pun intended) we wanted to get off of, but didn’t know how.
The costs of getting bigger and better presents was skyrocketing. Even the giving gifts was becoming a performance test. We watched intently, as our presents were being unwrapped, to see if we had made a good selection. If we had, we basked in the glow of having picked the perfect gift. If the receiver looked anything less than elated, we felt like failures.
Of course, we realized others were doing the same, as we opened our gifts. So even if we could not imagine what we would ever do with a brass apple corer, we had to act the part of extreme excitement and gushing gratitude.
And then there was the business of the baby Jesus. After the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection in the spring, every December, somehow He regressed to the baby in the manger.
I began to wonder why we celebrated our own birthdays as the age we are now, but could only celebrate Jesus as a baby.
Even signs, such as “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” made it sound like Jesus was a seasonal item. Wasn’t He the Reason for ALL the seasons?
I Can Do This! Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas!
On the day after Thanksgiving, following a “too stuffed to puff” left over meal, I half heartedly looked at my list of things to do for Christmas. I sighed. It was time to put Merry into high gear. Maybe if I just did it, I could kind of “catch the wave” and go with the feeling.
I put on the Christmas music, baked more and more cookies, read magazines with pretty holiday themes, got more decorations to add to the old ones, and looked at how many spots I could fill on the calendar with Christmas activities.
“I can do this,” I said. “I can be merrier than I’ve ever been before.”
But I was hardly out of the gate before my “ho ho” became an “oh oh.”
As I sampled another Christmas cookie, and felt the sugar high taking the edge off my scrooge attitude, I turned up my Christmas music. I heard the song, “Mary, did you know?” (Words by Mark Lowry, music by Buddy Green)
I had heard it many times before. But on that day, the words seemed to soak in to a deeper part of me.
Jesus — Visitor or Someone Who Lived in My House?
I felt Jesus Himself was present. I could almost see Him sitting at my kitchen table having a cookie with me.
“Carolyn,” He said. “Do you know why I came to earth?”
I was delighted. I knew the answer to that question! Like an eager game show contestant, I recited, “For God so loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I finished with a flourish. “That’s John 3:16!”
He smiled, but it seemed it was a sad smile.
“So, what’s it to you, Carolyn?”
While I was pondering the right answer to the new question, Jesus pointed around the room at the baked goods, the presents and wrapping paper. He picked up my very organized list and read it, shaking His Head.
He walked into the next room and looked at my sparkling tree, the branches laden down with ornaments from over the years and the new ones I had added this year.
He peered out the window and frankly laughed at the inflatable, which up close sounded like either an approaching train or Darth Vader with a very bad cold.
“What’s all this stuff mean to you, Carolyn?”
My heart began to beat faster, as I searched for a good answer. He was not laughing or smiling now. He was looking directly at me. His eyes seemed to radiate, not condemnation, but Pure Love. I did not have the urge to pick up a baby. I was being picked up by The One Who saw me as a baby in His World.
In the quiet, He asked, “Where am I?”
I was going to point out the nativity scene, but somehow that did not seem like the right answer.
Who Are You and What Are You Doing in My Christmas?
Jesus then asked me the same question He had asked Simon Peter long ago.
Who do you say I am?
Dare I say I didn’t know? Was it possible that after all those years of growing up, I was not really grown up at all? Who was He?
He knew my thoughts. Even before I tried to answer Him, He said gently, “Take your time. Take a season and find out. This season will be different. You are about to have a real Christmas and it will be beyond merry. You are about to discover JOY!”
Christmas of Discovery!
And I did! That year was different, as I spent it with Him and wrote what He taught me. The words went from scribbled notes in my journal to an advent Sunday School teaching to an advent series shared electronically and finally to a book that has now been read in many different parts of the world. The book is called Christmas of Discovery.
You can purchase the book through our web site at
or through bookstores.
The book is designed as an invitation to a very personal conversation with The One, Who is the reason for all seasons. At the end of each chapter, there are questions for you to reflect on. The answers to the questions will draw your past, present and future into One with The One.
Journaling pages encourage you to talk with God and to listen to what He is saying to you.
The book can be used as a private exchange or you can invite others to the party. Families and small groups have delighted in discovering things about God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit and about each other, as they have shared their reflections.
HERE’S THE INVITATION TO ENJOY CHRISTMAS STORIES ALL THOUGH DECEMBER. IT’S A GIFT!
I want to give to others freely, as The One gave it to me. So for the month of December, I invite you to listen to me read a chapter each day. You may listen by clicking on the link next to the chapter title for each day.
May you have your own Christmas of Discovery, as you reflect on the Gift Jesus came to give you.
I have come that they [you] may have Life and have it to the full.
I have told you this so that MY JOY may be in you and that your JOY may be complete.