Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I love the sense of hope and ‘magic’ that seems to linger in the air as Christmas Day approaches.
Being a Christian and being brought up in a Christian home, Christmas Day is significant to our faith but sometimes it gets lost amongst the organization and chaos of creating a ‘perfect’ day.
I know that sometimes we can get overwhelmed with buying the right present, and having the right decorations on our tree and creating the perfect Christmas dinner and lunch and catching up with the right family and friends because it’s ‘expected’, but as much as you organise and work your butt off to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas day, you can’t guarantee the day will go off without a hitch. Or that you will feel fulfilled in creating a perfect day.
No one can predict the reactions to gifts received, or the little appreciation of the taste of the food served on the day and usually if all the family is together old issues that have never been dealt with previously can prop up causing chaos to a much anticipated ‘perfect’ Christmas Day.
Rather than trying to organise a perfect Christmas, why no just go with the flow and let it go? Did you know that Jesus’ birth wasn’t perfect? He was born in a manger with no medical assistance and his first scent was more likely cow manure rather than the scent of his mother.
The point is, you can be as organized as you want to be, but don’t be surprised if the day doesn’t go perfectly or if people don’t share your optimism. Just because you give, doesn’t mean you will receive back in return.
I will share with you a personal dilemma that caused me to be upset and unappreciated last year. It was a valuable lesson in learning how to love and not expect anything in return, but also learning to invest in quality friendships.
Every year, my husband and I organise our annual Senyard Christmas Party. It would be a really fabulous night of lots of good food, drinks and playing the hilarious Stealing Santa game. We would invite friends who meant a lot to us and whom we enjoyed their company.
When we were first married, we only invited possibly a dozen of our friends to our Christmas party because at the time that’s all we could fit into our little villa in Forest Lake.
Then we ‘upgraded’ to a bigger house, and hubby and I got more involved in various church ministries and our network of friends grew. The party list eventually got to over 50 people and I would usually provide full dinner for all our guests. It was an expensive exercise, but it was worth it because our friends loved it and we did too.
I never expected anything in return (or so I thought) because our party was our Christmas gift to our friends and I enjoyed being generous.
It wasn’t until I had a few close friends ask me how many of these friends returned the same gift of inviting us to their parties or functions through out the year and I realized that most of them didn’t invite us to their homes or own parties and I really had to analyze, why was I inviting all these friends into my home when they didn’t invite me to theirs.
The truth was really driven home when last year, we had our annual Christmas Party and everyone turned up and a week later when it came to New Years Eve parties, we had nowhere to go. In fact we weren’t invited anywhere and I felt upset and foolish. It was then that I realized that I was putting a lot of effort into making friends happy and giving them a fabulous time at my expense, but there was no return of love by them inviting us to their events. It also made me realize that maybe certain people were disappointed that they never got invited to our ‘exclusive’ party and it made me sad that I could have caused someone to feel left out.
I realized then that I had to invest time into close friendships. This year I checked my guest list twice! Our Christmas party included 6 friends (3 couples) and 3 children. It was the most relaxed Christmas Party I have ever organized and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The question at the end of the night was ‘What are you doing for New Year’s Eve?’
The lesson and point that I want to make from this is that I created unwanted emotional stress by creating the ‘perfect’ Christmas party for friends but neglected to analyze the motivation for inviting them into my home. God changed my thinking. If I wanted to have a big Christmas Party I had to make it an open invitation to invite EVERYBODY. I couldn’t afford to do that so I wisely made a small list of close friends who I knew would appreciate my company. I learned that when I love and give to others, I should not expect a return even if it’s a common courtesy, but when you invest and sow into a small group of close friends, the returns are abundant as they not only bring companionship but provide support through good times and bad.
So what is my encouragement from this post? Don’t stress about creating a perfect Christmas and then expect a return for all your effort. Love but don’t become bitter if the favour isn’t returned. If you feel you are being taken for granted, change it up and love people who you know can’t POSSIBLY return love back but who will appreciate your effort. Why not serve lunch to the less fortunate or donate money that would have been spent previously on expensive upappreciated gifts to a charity where the money is needed.
God sent his only Son at Christmas as a gift to all humanity, knowing that he would suffer 30 years later and be put to death for crimes he did not commit purely to rectify our relationship with Him wrecked by our own sin. The investment was worth the cost because of the greater return. My initial investment was costly, with little return. God calls us to be good stewards with our time and money. Investing wisely creates a good return.
Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.