‘Tis the season… for exhaustion. And I do it to myself. I can’t remember the last night I had a good night’s sleep, and it’s my own fault. Shopping and wrapping are always done early and not a problem. Even the annual Mother-Daughter Christmas dinner the girls and I host is easy for me. But there are the other things that I put on myself that tend to keep me up at night. I love Christmas letters. I know some people think they’re cheesy, but I love them. I want to know what’s going on with the military family I grew up with and how many grandchildren our elderly relatives now have. I love reading about where people have traveled, what their children are majoring in, and how I can pray for them in the coming year. For years, I wrote my own family Christmas letter and kept copies on the last page of our family albums. Then a few years ago, I started sending our letter electronically, and somehow that morphed into a slideshow complete with Christmas carols. The end product is something we all enjoy watching and sharing, but getting to that end, with everything else we have going on, is sometimes a painstaking endeavor.
Add to that the family Christmas story. Many years ago, when my children and their cousins were very young, I wrote a Christmas story and bound it with a handmade cover. The kids loved it, and my mother-in-law said it made her Christmas. As happens so often, the tale took on a life of it’s own, and every year, I reach into the depths of my mind to create a story that is still fun and whimsical but is relatable to everyone as they get older. It’s no easy task. Writing the story, creating graphics, and putting it together into a book takes longer than all of the wrapping I do for every occasion all year long. But the love and laughter that go along with that Christmas day read-aloud is worth it. As least I think it is. By the time I’m done with everything that I do to prepare for the holidays, I’m positive that I’ll be too tired to really enjoy any of it. But then December 22nd rolls around.
Once we’re at Mom’s and our family is gathered under one roof – the five of us, my parents, my brothers and their families, aunts, uncles, cousins, all of the extended family and closest friends – whatever worries or exhaustion I may have been feeling, just melts away. Amidst the cooking, the football watching, the game playing, and the picture taking, I find my zen, my foundation, my piece of Heaven on Earth. I know that Christmas isn’t about presents, or stories, or letters, or baking, or any of the other things that the world would like us to believe it’s about, but it is about self-sacrifice. It’s about coming into this world to serve others, to put the good of mankind above all, to love your neighbor as yourself, to strive for peace on Earth, and to lay down one’s life for your friends. It’s about all of the good that still exists in this world and the riches and joys of the world to come. It’s about seeing the face of Jesus in others and feeling the love of Jesus in our hearts. I pray that everyone is able to experience the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season. When you feel run-down, overwhelmed, and too exhausted to go, remember,
“unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2: 11-14
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three inspirational fiction eBooks of 2015. Her most recent book, Whispering Vines, is available for purchase; and her next novel, Island of Miracles, will be released in January of 2017.
You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.