A Mundane Christmas

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A friend of mine keeps this quote, from his professor at Hillsdale College, on his facebook page: “We often fail to see how much of life is taken up by mundane things. The great challenge, then, is to live the mundane life well.” -- Dr. Gamble

At first glance, Dr. Gamble’s quote has nothing to do with Christmas. To me, however, it has much to do with Christmas. Let me explain.
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As a college student, I mourn the fact that Advent is shortened to approximately one week. I arrived home only two days ago; Christmas comes in less than four days now. Though I did have a small Christmas tree at school, Christmas seemed very far away – I was too busy worrying about finals and getting enough sleep to bother about buying presents or wrapping presents or baking cookies. I managed only to read a small part of the beginning of Luke and John some nights before I collapsed into bed.
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Many times, I think it cannot be Christmas unless I leisurely spend time wrapping and listening to Nat King Cole, shopping and then drinking tea at Starbucks in their red “wish” cups, and doing any number of “traditional” things. My picture of Christmas looks much like a “Leave it to Beaver” Christmas: everything is finished in plenty of time and everything is started with plenty of time in which to finish it. Real-life Christmas looks more a reality TV show. I run around the mall and wrap presents two minutes before I give them. And I find myself stressed; upset that Christmas is consumed by seemingly pointless little tasks, done at the last minute.
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The obvious answer to my dilemma is that Christmas is not really about the gifts and the shopping and the cookies and the music. I should sit back and contemplate Christ more – create a little quiet time in the midst of the craziness. This answer is, of course, quite true. It doesn’t help me, though, when my four year old sister expects a present from me or when I promised to bake cookies for a party. I still must do these things, despite the fact that I have very little time in which to do them and so they seem like harried events instead of joyous moments.
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Dr. Gamble’s words, however, do give me a more practical answer to my dilemma: life is not about the big, noticeable, perfect things – like beautiful parties and presents wrapped by the fifteenth of December. Instead, it is about hot tea that spills from your coffee mug all over your purse and hurrying to wrap Aunt Sue’s present and unloading the dishwasher every single morning. When I understand this, I can lower my expectations on what Christmas should look like; I can begin to understand the purpose behind even harried Christmas preparations. I learn, slowly, that buying presents is no longer a required chore but rather an act that symbolizes the love of a Father who sacrificed everything to give us the most perfect present of all. Likewise, I learn that baking cookies at midnight is ok – I see that the delicious food foreshadows the exquisite banquet in heaven, where the redeemed sit because of what happened at Christmas and finished at Easter.
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This Christmas, I want to learn that the mundane things often point to the heavenly things. If I can understand that wrapping and singing and cleaning and all the other “necessary things” are more than required cultural elements (which must be done perfectly) but instead are subtle rituals which point to the gospel, I will be grateful. If much of life is taken up by mundane things, I want to live the mundane life well.
--from the archives
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Comments

  1. (happy to be the first comment)

    Merry Christmas! :D

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  2. I didn't really enjoy the article, honestly. It's too vague

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  3. What a beautiful reminder to intentionally find joy in the little things. When I make the conscious decision to look for God's blessings in the everyday things around me, it causes me to refocus my thoughts on God's truth, love, and goodness. Thank you for reminding us to refocus on God and His gifts!

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  4. Boy, I know how that feels! I am a big craft person, so I make most of my Christmas presents. And I also happen to live in a large family, so there are a lot of people to give presents to.

    Sometimes when I am tired, stressed, and overstimulated I wonder why I do this at all?

    But then I envision the wonder in their sweet faces, and I get a little bit of joy in know that I a bringing them happiness.

    A lovely article.

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