I know my mom will be appalled, but I have a confession to make:
It’s February, and I’m still listening to Christmas music.
Let me explain myself. By the end of December, I am usually ready to say goodbye to to all things Christmas. The stockings and lights and parties and candy canes have had their month in the limelight and I itch to start January with a clean slate, a lighter diet, and freer schedule.
This year was no exception. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever been as anxious to see Christmas behind me as I was in 2013.
For some reason that Jason and I have not quite been able to articulate yet, we found this Christmas to be one of the most stressful, complicated, and overwhelming holidays we have faced as a couple (or perhaps ever). It was probably a combination of the weather’s unpredictability, the ping-pong feeling of bouncing back and forth between home and the various celebrations, and the sheer vastness of the stuff that our kids received this year. Those things, coupled with the normal way that tensions and expectations run high over the month of December made us feel that this year, Christmas just drained the life out of us.
So when January 1 rolled around, the tree was already in the attic, the house had been swept clean of all the junk we’d been pigging out on for weeks, and it felt like we all just took one huge sigh of relief. I’ve put all of Christmas behind me, save for one thing: a playlist on my phone I’ve called “Christmas worship.”
One of the things I feel that, unfortunately, we did not do well in December was to spend time stilling our hearts long enough to focus on the image of Jesus in the manger, to remember that he came, and to receive the peace he came to give us. I don’t want to throw that baby out with the bathwater of everything I was so tired of by December 28. So I find myself, more than ever, irresistibly drawn to songs that remind me that that stuff’s not Christmas. Jesus is.
So yes, I’m still listening to Christmas music. Because my soul still needs to hear words like these:
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in thee
(“Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” Matt Redman & Christy Nockels)
God with man is now residing
Yonder shines the infant light
(“Come and Worship,” Bebo Norman)
And these:We’re not that far from Bethlehem
Where all our hope and joy began
(“Not that far from Bethlehem,” Point of Grace)
Emmanuel shall come to thee
O Israel, rejoice
(“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” Stephen Curtis Chapman)
I still need to remember that Jesus did not come as an infant to give me a parade with free candy, and lit-up snowmen in the park, and hot chocolate, and packages wrapped in red and green paper, as wonderful as all of those things are. He came to reconcile me to God. He came so that I, sinful as I am, would have a way into the Father’s presence. He came to be God with me.
And I don’t ever want to stop celebrating that.