Long ago, maybe hidden in one of my journals from junior high, I remember writing, “December is more than a month. It is a feeling”. Though this thought came to me years ago I recall it resonating deep within my soul. Even then, with braces and oversized basketball shoes I knew this idea was important.
I have always had strong ties to December, probably because it is the month in which I was born. Our little town’s holiday parade and church Christmas program always fell on my birthday weekend. Each year I always had the same party, ice skating with my friends at Washington Park Ice Rink in Jefferson City, followed by warm coffee and Christmas music on the ride home. Every bit of this experience each year meant everything to me, it was all so magical.
All year long, I look forward to December, because while everyone is stringing up lights and doling out glitter in celebration of Christmas, I am annually turning another year older. In a way, I have always felt the world was celebrating with me and cheering me on.
This past week I have been quietly observing and I am noticing that this December feeling is appearing earlier than usual. It is in the red cups we clutch, my conversations with friends over plans for the holiday, and even in my shopping, deciding what will look nice in family photos. Maybe it has always been this way, Christmas coming right after Halloween, but for some reason it is hitting me differently this year. I am a bit surprised to have the December feels rush upon me so suddenly. Along with this silent observing, I have been hearing a reoccurring quiet whisper within my heart. This voice, none other than the Holy Spirit, keeps asking me, “What if this year you made this Christmas entirely about Me?” My first response to this was, “What have I been doing wrong these past 21 years of my life?”
This morning I was reading in Zechariah and it opens in stating:
“In November of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the Lord gave this message to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah and grandson of Iddo:
‘I, the Lord, was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Do not be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention when the earlier prophets said to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Turn from your evil ways, and stop all your evil practices” (Zechariah 1:1-4 NLT).
Two things stand out to me in this passage, the first being that this Lord addresses this issue during the month of November. We know of course that the birth of Jesus Christ is not historically connected to the 25th. Yet, this is a time that we as a society have selected to pay tribute to the birth of our Savior. Our, all knowing God, was fully aware of what month we would chose to celebrate His Son’s coming to earth as He breathed His words into scripture. Therefore, I find it to be no coincidence that the Lord addressed the prophet Zechariah during the month of November. This is personal reminder to His people as they prepare to celebrate His life through the Christmas season.
Second, I love how the Lord beckons, “Return to me, and I will return to you”. I cannot tell you the countless Christmas pageants and songs I have heard that say something similar to this, quoting “Come to the manger”. Truly, I do not think we see our classic Christmas films and continuous to-do lists as evil entrapments, but what if they are idols placed between us and Christ? We saw our parents make the mad December dash, sometimes even going into debt because of it. They most likely witnessed their parents participating in the same ordeal. The Lord commands, “Do not be like your ancestors who would not listen or pay attention…” Maybe this is where we turn it all over and return to Jesus? What if we truly abandoned social norms and dedicated December entirely to Him? The Lord gave us hint, a month ahead, by specifically mentioning this during the month of November. He knows the pitfalls we all to often fall into each Christmas. For me personally, I believe my pit is wallowing in selfishness. For so long I have believed December’s purpose was to please me, to magical to fulfill my sparkling Hallmark like fantasies. This year I want things to be different.
I still believe in what I felt years ago. December is more than a month, it is a feeling. A feeling of excitement, sparkle, warmth, and simple joy. A feeling that was born from a baby wrapped in swaddling cloth. This year I want to listen to the Holy Spirit rather than the yearning of my own heart and experience a Christmas completely surrendered to Jesus. I know it will be beautiful and I feel brave for choosing this route. While it is still November, I chose to embrace the December feeling and embody Christ. He, over all, is worthy.
This past week, as I have been pondering this idea of a completely Christ-centered Christmas I have had three songs continuously on repeat. Perhaps, they might inspire you to get into the December spirit. Take a listen!
Photos by Spotify Artists
Also, yes it is true. Chris and I are not putting up our Christmas tree this year. One being that we are in the process of trying to visit family in Missouri for Christmas. Taking down Christmas decor is depressing work and I am not up for that this year. Also, I feel it is a reminder of this calling from the Holy Spirit that Christmas is not found in the garland and beautiful red bows. It is in Jesus only. I want the spaciousness of our treeless home to be a daily prayer for Him to fill our home with His presence.