“You are getting those? Are you kidding me? How can you do that? It’s way too early!” Yes, those were the words I received, with a look of distain to go with it, as I was standing in line to check out. I felt like I should be wearing a helmet in case objects were thrown at me. And what exactly did I have that was setting this dear lady into a rage? I had tinsel and ribbon for the Christmas tree. I not only had a lady who was mad at my purchase, but a line of 8 people ahead of me! This was going to be a very long wait. Would I live through it? Would I have any missing body parts after I got checked out?
I was a bit thrown back on this one, but now, I understand why I had a very long wait ahead of me. God knew exactly what He was doing. As I stood there, I looked around at the packed store and I saw sad faces everywhere. I saw people mad and angry at the crowd and the long wait. I even saw a couple in the next line over arguing about the fact that Christmas trees were up and it was a tragedy to start the holidays so early. I thought, “wow, if they see what’s in my cart, I will not make it out of here alive!” It made my heart sink. Should I run, hide, duck for cover?
I am one of those people, yes I will admit, that decorates my Christmas tree November 1st! Some years it’s decorated on Halloween! I can hear things being thrown at me now. I LOVE the holidays! I love putting that tree up every year. I am the one belting out Michael Buble’ Christmas tunes the first of November. And the one who has tinsel in my cart at the store while everyone else is buying their Halloween candy. Many have asked “what is wrong with you Lisa!” Good question!
As I was standing in line, the Lord took me down Memory Lane! I began the journey in my mind of all the Christmas seasons in my life. The seasons were filled with many memories! There were some years we faced many trials. Some years there was loss. There were the years I faced it as a single Mom, not by choice, and wondered how we would even have a Christmas. The years of my Mom’s fight with cancer, and my battle with my own health issues. But even through those trials, what a joy the Christmas season was! I began thinking about it all. What made those difficult Christmas seasons happy?
Growing up, no matter what, my Mom and Dad made it about Jesus. No matter what the circumstance, it was about family, giving, and love. I will never forget the Christmas they announced that we would be giving our Christmas to a family that could not have a Christmas of their own. I remember my reaction. “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” I know, I wish I could say I danced around with glee at this news. I will say this though, when I saw that single Mother and those 4 children open their gifts that Christmas, and eat the meal we prepared, and help us decorate the tree we put up for them.....my life changed. My Christmas was redefined. I don’t think my Mom and Dad know how deeply that Christmas impacted my life. I was only in Jr. High during that Christmas, but it was then that it all made sense to me. This is what the Christmas season was all about. This was what it should be like all year long.
As I was driving home one day, my daughter and I began talking about the Christmas season. She was working on math, and she looked over at me and said “Mom, I think people need to learn about Christmas banking.” “I think that if they realized it was not about purchasing but investing, they would not think it had become so about money and purchasing gifts.” By george, I think she’s got it! We came to the conclusion that Christmas is only as materialized as we make it. I actually had tears rolling down my face by the time we had reached the house. It was about investing. Investing in the lives of others, investing in things that matter and are eternal. Those gifts may not fill the room with wrapping paper and boxes, they fill it with things that last an eternity, and are investments into the kingdom of heaven!
My husband and I made an announcement to the kids a few weeks ago that we decided to have a Christmas without purchases. It would be about investing this year, like the Christmas that changed my life when I was young. I thought I would get the same reaction I gave my parents years ago.....”ARE YOU KIDDING?” And quite frankly braced myself for their reaction. Boy was I surprised. I remember hearing, “Hey, let’s make new traditions! Let’s make a Christmas brunch together!....”Let’s make our gifts this year!”....and the ideas were flowing. (and I was running for the kleenex) Seeing the smiles, hearing the laughter that day on the 1st week of November, with the tree up and lighted.....my Christmas had been made, two months early.
I made it to the front of the line, and by this time had a smile on my face. For in that 20 minutes of waiting, I realized even more how thankful I was to be celebrating the one who invested His life for me. I left that store with not only tinsel for the Christmas tree but with a new perspective, and a new excitement for this season. And yes, I belted my Michael Buble’ tunes all the way to the car. And I even saw a little smile come over the face of the lady who was angry at me in line as I was leaving. Amazing what God can teach us, even in the checkout line at a store. He invests so much into my life everyday, now it’s my turn.