Billings, Montana, our nearest shopping mecca, is nearly a three hours’ drive from here, so a trip there for Christmas and grocery shopping became something of a marathon the other day. I suspected that I wasn’t the only one feeling overwhelmed, as the tension and weariness that I saw on so many faces seemed to mirror my own.
Perhaps some of those folks struggle with the same disorder that I do: GIPS (Gift Indecision and Procrastination Syndrome). Symptoms include hesitation and vacillation, such as: Will they like it? Do they already have one? Does it cost too much? If not, does it look too cheap? Is it the right color, size, type, or style? Could I find a better gift at another store? I should probably keep looking. Maybe I’ll find something better…. After a few hours of such deliberation, my spirit of the season soon evaporated and was blown away by the icy Billings wind.
Some of us also contend with CCS (Christmas Codependence Syndrome) in which we operate under the assumption that it’s up to us to ensure joy to the world, peace on earth, and goodwill amongst men. Alas, when joy fizzles out, peace unravels, and goodwill goes AWOL, we realize that we’re not up to the task. In and of themselves, our fudge can’t sweeten bitterness, our cookies can’t quench fears, our gifts can’t heal heartache, our lights can’t lift heavy spirits, and our decorations can’t disguise bleakness.
And so it recently dawned on me that I can’t make Christmas merry. Christmas is a gift given to everyone, but each of us is free to decide whether or not to take and open it. Grace, mercy, love, joy, peace, and hope are lovingly offered but not always received or shared. Christmas is a choice!
“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given….And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” ISAIAH 9:6