• Jill Jarrell Newsome

Less Fuss And More Focus

I have so many wonderful memories about Christmas. Prior to Christmas we always had lots of special goodies around like peanut butter balls, lady fingers and fudge. I loved to lay in front of the lit up Christmas tree and I touched every present that had my name on it. We watched Christmas shows. We would get together with family and friends. Christmas Eve was especially special to me!

On Christmas Eve we would go to church and have our candlelight service. Through the years, depending on the ages of children, we went to different services. But all of our services ended with us holding little white candles and singing Silent Night as the lights were dimmed. I always thought it was so beautiful. We were always surrounded by family and friends at church. Afterwards Dad would drive us around to look at Christmas lights. There was one neighborhood that really outdid themselves that I wanted to live in. (The neighborhood that as an adult you would probably not want to live in because it reminds you of "Christmas Vacation". I just remember thinking it was so beautiful. All the while we were driving we would look for Santa Claus. Dad always thought he spotted him but by the time we looked he was gone. On the way to our house, the neighborhood lined all of the streets with white bags filled with sand and a candle. My grandmother would spend the night with us. Things seemed so simple then.

Today seems so much different. Christmas is celebrated bigger and bigger each year. I believe God modeled a quiet grateful way to celebrate Christmas. It was not extravagant - even humbling. Luke 2: 6-7, "While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a Son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."

The people in the story of Jesus' birth were humble in a modest setting. They made do in a place meant for animals. Mary used what she had for her baby. She wrapped Him in cloths and then laid Him in a food trough. But the angels watched with awe, praising and giving thanks to God. And Scripture tells us that Mary treasured and pondered all that had happened. Luke 2: 19, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

I am the person who is finished with shopping, wrapping and decorating the weekend before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the whole season! But, it seems this year I find myself stressing. So I have simplified Christmas with less decorating, less baking (don't laugh), less gifts and for the first time in over thirty years I am not doing Christmas cards. And I am writing this so I won't have guilt! I think Jesus wants me to do simple and sweet so He can lead me to a place of wonder! I am hurrying less and pausing more.

I invite you to join me in less fuss and more focus on the true meaning of Christmas! A baby born to be a King. Emmanuel ... God with us. Amen.