Christmas, exactly.

You know that song, "The First Noel?" The one where an angel appears and tells some chilly field hands to get up and follow a totally obvious star to Jesus?... Every time I hear it, it makes me wanna kick a shepherd.

I'm telling you, those shepherds didn't know what a sweet deal they were getting when they got sucked in to the first Noel! They had it so easy. According to the song, it was just like, “Hey, check out that star! Now follow it 'til you find a baby king in a barn - and boom! You're done. Christmas is over, see ya next year.”

Those lucky bastards didn't have to deal with anything like the list of crap we have to do to pull off Christmas. They didn't have to think about teacher gifts and white elephant parties and pesky little things, like credit limits. There were no lights to hang, no trees to decorate, no cookies to bake, and none of them had to find coordinating outfits for a family picture that match, but aren't too, like, matchy-matchyY'know? All they had to do was go find Jesus. And they had a star to show them the way!

Christmas was just so simple.

The first noel sounds like a cakewalk compared to this Noel. Can you imagine if someone wrote a song about this Christmas?

It would go like “La La La. An angel came to the folks fighting for a spot in the Target parking lot at 10 p.m., and sang, 'Merry Christmas! Born is the King of... retail shopping.”, and then there would be a verse about throwing your back out while you pull eleven bins of Christmas shit out of the garage.

Ok. It wouldn't be a pretty song. But it would be pretty accurate.

Seriously though. When did Christmas turn into this? This race to the finish line?

It's like I start on full throttle the day after Thanksgiving, and I keep running, as fast as I can, until I come to a screeching halt on Christmas Eve, when my bank account is too empty and my belt is too tight, and I can finally sit back in a chair at church for a Christmas Eve Service and breathe a sigh of relief, because ~ by the Grace of God ~ it's almost over. Thank you, baby Jesus! 

During the "candle light" service, I will hold my glow stick high, and I will sing all of those beautiful but historically inaccurate Christmas songs loud, and my Joy will be complete - because I did it. I made it to the final stretch. That night, I will close my eyes and pray in earnest thanksgiving, because at home Santa Claus is poised and ready for attack and a Honey Baked ham is waiting for the oven. 

Our holiday celebration will last a few hours, and in a matter of days I'll be sweeping Christmas out of my house along with a mountain of torn wrapping paper and broken ribbons, and pile of dead pine needles. The gifts will have been given, the feast will have been eaten, the food coma will be wearing off to the special kind of quiet that settles over a house filled with brand new hand-held electronics. And that's when I will tie up Christmas with a neat little bow and shove it back in the garage until next year.

Oh, how I envy the shepherds in that stupid song! I envy the simplicity of the first Noel. I envy how the way to worship was marked clearly in the sky. I mean, I don't know about you, but I could really use an Angel to appear out of nowhere and tell me where to find Jesus in all of this, to show me the way, to point out the star. 

I mean, I know the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of a Savior - and I know He's here somewhere, in the mess I've created - but I feel like maybe I'm running too fast to see Him. Maybe my view of the New Born King has been obscured by so many boxes of Christmas junk. And maybe all these twinkly lights are only serving as a distraction from The One Light I should be looking for.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

...But I don't really know how to do it right. 

To be honest, I'm a Christian and I'm not even sure what Christmas should look like, exactly.

I just have a feeling it's not supposed to look like this.


Just for funzies, here's my favorite meaningless Christmas carol - 
by The Pentatonix, because WHO ELSE?!