I have many issues with Christmas. I overreact to silly things, I cry with very little provocation, I feel generally unstable and fragile. It probably started in my childhood, without my even understanding it. Why do I only have memories of Christmas with my mother’s family and none with my father’s? Did they live further away? Were there issues I didn’t understand as a child? Probably.
I was praying about the mess I was in this morning. I imagined myself giving Jesus a whole armful of scrunched Christmas wrapping, torn crackers, tangled ribbon and other Christmas detritus.
“What do you want me to do with this?” I imagined Him saying.
That took me by surprise. I wanted Him to sort it out. I was thinking perhaps He would smooth out the paper and fold it up neatly, untangle the ribbon and roll it up in neat little rolls and sort all the decorations and put them together in a box.
“Don’t hang on to old wrappings,” I imagined Jesus saying to me, “they belong in the trash.”
I realised my expectations of Christmas have been shaped by my past, how things were when I was a child, how they were when my husband and I had our own three beautiful children. We were a family. We used to alternate one year with my husband’s family, one year with my family and one year on our own, just the five of us.
I can’t wrap new Christmases in old wrapping paper. Each year is a new gift from God and should get new wrapping paper. Life changes, the new generation thinks differently from the old. Even old traditional carols have been jazzed up and modernised. People die or move to other countries.
When the Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples did not fast as had been done in the past and as they considered the right and traditional thing to do, Jesus said,” …neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst: the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
I would like to say to myself, “Do not put new gifts into old gift wrapping. If you do, the old wrapping might be too big or too small and it might tear from much use, spoiling the look of the gift and wasting the paper. Rather wrap new gifts in new wrapping. It can be cut to the right size and will enhance the look of the gift.
Naturally it is going to take me some time to be able to let go of the worthless wrapping paper and still preserve precious memories that I cherish of Christmases past without allowing them to colour my expectations of Christmas present. I trust the Lord to help me.