Remember all those plans I mentioned last week? Well…the gifts are still the same, but I’m wondering how celebrations are going to happen this year.

C has to work on Christmas Eve. Normally that would be a major problem for our family since I play bass at church all day. I was scheduled and I was looking forward to it even though I don’t plan to play on the worship team much longer. But now our church had to close again because of a COVID outbreak amongst the staff. I found out through the grapevine that over half the staff has it. Unfortunately that is a deal-breaker for me. I am still in that high-risk demographic. So even if the worship pastor wants me to play for Christmas Eve it won’t happen unless they figure out how I can play remotely.

So, thank you God, for not having the kids home alone-ish on Christmas Eve…or at the church all day. I just ask that C get to be off for Christmas Eve next year.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but C is an overnight stocker at a grocery store. That means he’s one of the people putting stuff on the shelves and making sure that the labels are facing the right direction. That means that he actually works most holidays – especially holidays like Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and any other holidays that involve lots of food. In years past he was at a different, smaller store that was closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That meant that he had the night before off – Christmas Eve anyone? – and he could celebrate with the rest of us. That store closed a couple years ago and the store he’s at now is bigger and therefore open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means he has to work.

On top of all that, C’s sister was exposed to COVID within the last couple days. She was planning to host Christmas Eve, but now that’s not going to happen. And her youngest’s birthday is in a couple days. So now we can’t even see her and have to just leave her gift on the doorstep. It’ll be okay, but it’s disappointing to not be able to wish our niece a happy birthday or celebrate with them on Christmas Eve.

Instead of focusing on the negative though, this gives C and me an opportunity to remind the kids of the reason for the season. Christmas is an important holiday because this is the time that we celebrate the birth of the man who would later die for our sins. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Yes, we celebrate by giving gifts, but that’s to remind us of the gift He gave us by being born. Without Jesus’ birth there wouldn’t have been anyone to die for our sins. Without Jesus dying for our sins, we would still be sacrificing animals for our sins and getting to heaven would be nearly impossible. Instead we get to celebrate His birth and know that we have a direct link to God and heaven just by accepting Jesus into our lives and hearts.

I struggle enough with whether or not I’m good enough – for myself and those I love – I couldn’t imagine trying to be good enough for God. I love that we live in His grace and nothing can separate us once we invite Him into our lives. What a wonderful reason for the season! Forget the gifts! Forget the traditions. Forget the family gatherings. None of that would exist without God sending His Son to us. (I’m selfish enough to let you know that I don’t want to really forget the gifts…I was just trying to make a point.)

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