final_advent_cover5.jpgAnd a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3: 17 (NIV)

I have a reputation as the over-the-top birthday party girl. Last year, my son turned two, and we had a petting zoo, crafts, face painting, Chik-fil-a, and of course ice cream. I know that I should simplify, and I feel guilty about not, but I have given in. I love it. I love making a huge deal out of his big day. I don’t mind blowing my budget or even decorating fifty cupcakes. I have already started planning for next year’s party, and it is only nine months away.

We make a pretty big deal out of Christ’s birthday too. Stores start putting out decorations right after Halloween. We blow our budgets, we decorate, we send out cards, we cook, we shop, and we overbook our calendars. Sometimes I worry that all the presents and commercialization has cheapened this holiday. That we are so busy that we forget that it is indeed a birth we are celebrating and not that crazy-looking bearded man in a red suit. Every year, I tell myself that I am going to simplify: spend less, commit to less, and rest more. These are valiant resolutions, and occasionally I even keep a few of them.

I don’t think God minds though. It is His Son’s birthday after all, and He is surely a proud Daddy. He didn’t hold back either. No other holiday has more tradition, more events, more decorations, or more presents. The stars even shined brighter. God has never been about stuff, yet three kings from the East brought this tiny baby gold, insense, and myrrh. And I thought my parents spoiled their grandchild! Don’t give those retail stores all the credit, God knows how to celebrate in a big way. It isn’t about all that stuff of course – it is about His Son!

I know this whole book is about centering ourselves on Christ during this crazy season, but don’t forget that it is indeed a celebration. Indulge for the day in that. Bake some cupcakes, and break out the ice cream (yes, even in December).

Lord, help me to remember what it is we are celebrating today. Help me to delight more in You than the packages beneath my tree.

Take a few moments to read the story of Christ’s birth today (Luke 2:1-14 ). Try to keep His birth the focus of your celebration today.

Charcoal drawing by Ryan Snieder, 2007