Between Jason being gone until about 8 every night, trying to find someone to take our lease, looking for a place in East Bay (see below for explanation), on top of all the normal Christmas craziness, things got a bit off balanced in our house for awhile. More stress than gratitude, more busyness than togetherness, more frazzled than fun.
We forgot for a second what Christmas was. Not presents. Not traditions. Not full calendars. There's of course nothing wrong with those things. We love them. They make this time of year special and magical. But as with everything, there is a balance. Those things are icing on the cake--but the foundation of Christmas is the Savior himself. We are grateful to focus on Him, on what He's done for us. On His humble birth, and magnificent life. There have been countless times in my life that I've wondered, how do people do this without the support, the purpose, and the understanding that He brings.
I love what Elder Holland says:
The wise men did come later bearing gifts, adding some splendor and wealth to this occasion, but it is important to note that they came from a distance, probably Persia, a trip of several hundred miles at the very least. Unless they started long before the star appeared, it is highly unlikely that they arrived on the night of the babe’s birth. Indeed, Matthew records that when they came Jesus was “a young child,” and the family was living in “a house.” (Matt. 2:11.)
Perhaps this provides an important distinction we should remember in our own holiday season. Maybe the purchasing and the making and the wrapping and the decorating—those delightfully generous and important expressions of our love at Christmas—should be separated, if only slightly, from the more quiet, personal moments when we consider the meaning of the Baby (and his birth) who prompts the giving of such gifts.
As happens so often if we are not careful, the symbols can cover that which is symbolized. In some of our lives the manger has already been torn down to allow for a discount store running three-for-a-dollar specials on gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
At this focal point of all human history, a point illuminated by a new star in the heavens revealed for just such a purpose, probably no other mortal watched—none but a poor young carpenter, a beautiful virgin mother, and silent stabled animals who had not the power to utter the sacredness they had seen.
Shepherds would soon arrive and later, wise men from the East. Later yet the memory of that night would bring Santa Claus and Frosty and Rudolph—and all would be welcome. But first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.