Life-giving Christmas

We received a gift in the mail last week of delicious-smelling coffee beans from a local coffee roaster in Franklin, Tennessee. The thoughtfulness warmed my heart, but the message on the bag stopped me in my tracks:

May this holiday season add life to your years.

Am I the only one who feels that the Christmas season can sometimes suck the life out of me? That life-giving and holidays don’t sit well in the same sentence? I have this feeling almost every year, so it seemed like the simple message on that bag of coffee was written specifically for me.

The day I opened that bag of coffee, I realized that life was the one thing I wanted to receive this Christmas and the one thing I wanted to give to those I love. I’ve already lost sight of that goal once or twice, but today on Christmas Eve, I’m deciding again to give and receive life, and I have a feeling you may want to do the same.

When I think of Christmas that way, the last-minute gift that I burned brain cells over yesterday isn’t quite as important as I thought it was - it’s more important that the recipient knows that we love them and that we’re grateful for the legacy they’ve woven through our family. A trinket gift won’t give that message as much as a heartfelt card or telling them that we care over a glass of eggnog. If I stop and think, that feta cheese that I need for my spinach artichoke dip isn’t such a key ingredient after all. Chances are, the dip will be tasty without it, and spazzing around the house is hardly life-giving for myself or anyone near enough to witness it.

It’s just a change of perspective. A simple re-alignment to realize that Christmas brings together family and food and a chance to express our love for one another by giving gifts. But those things aren’t the soul of Christmas. The soul of Christmas is life.

God became a man and stepped into earth to give life to the world. That’s the soul, the meaning, the celebration of Christmas; that in Jesus we have been given the unfathomable gift of freedom from the sting and pain of sinfulness and the gift of a rich and full and eternal life.

It’s not about perfect spinach artichoke dip and the perfect present. Those things are a part of Christmas, yes, but they aren’t the soul of it. They aren’t life-giving. That coffee bag taught me a simple and mighty lesson, and I’m keeping it close to my heart this Christmas Eve:

May this holiday season add life to your years.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
Fall on your knees
O hear the angels' voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born