One of my favorite Christmas movies is the Charlie Brown special, “I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown.” At the risk of sounding sacrilegious I’ve never been much of a fan of the Charlie Brown special where a depressed middle schooler spends the holiday season contemplating the meaning of life. Still the newer version about a persistent 5 year old who is obsessed with the idea of getting a dog for Christmas---that episode cracks me up every time!
If you haven’t seen it yet, you should. But in the meantime, it’s sufficient to know that Rerun, (Lucy and Linus’ little brother) is convinced that he NEEDS a dog for Christmas. Talk about single-minded focus! He’s got one thing on his mind and he’s determined that it is the only thing that will make him happy.
Of course, his Mom doesn’t want him to have a dog. Everyone tells him this over and over again throughout the movie. Still, he is undeterred in his efforts. He just knows he HAS to have a dog and he spends every day before Christmas plotting, planning and looking for ways to get a dog.
Of my favorite scenes is when he’s in the kitchen with his sister, Lucy having this conversation:
Rerun: “What I think I’ll do today is take some money out of my college trust fund and go buy a dog.”
Lucy : “You don’t have a college trust fund.”
Rerun: “I don’t?”
Rerun “Please pass the grape jelly.”
Lucy: “We’re all out of grape jelly.”
Rerun: “How can anyone not have a dog, a college trust fund, and grape jelly?”
Perish the thought!!! Yep, Rerun sure was having a bad holiday---no dog, no trust fund, and no grape jelly.
Of course, it seems silly to us. Who wastes their entire Christmas vacation focusing on the one thing they can’t have when there are so many things around for them to enjoy?
Unfortunately, too many people.
The truth is that far too many women spend waste their holidays very much like Rerun---focusing only on the things they don’t have. Like Rerun, too often, many of us fall into the trap of making our wish list and then focusing on all of the things we don’t have rather than enjoying the things we do.
Some women wish they had more financial resources….if only they had more money they could enjoy the picturesque lifestyle they always imagined.
Other women think if only they had children---then the holidays would be so much better.
Some think, “If only my house were fancier, bigger, nicer…..then I could have people over and really celebrate.” Others think, “If only I had a home of my own.”
The list can go on and on….
“If only I lived closer to my family, if only I got along better with my family, if only I didn’t have to work through the entire holiday season, if only I were healthier or could get some more help around the house.”
However, can I be brutally honest with you? Friend to friend can you handle some straight talk?
Reality is that Christmas isn’t magic. Just because December 25 rolls around on the calendar doesn’t mean that “poof!” everything in your life is going to instantly become better.
HOWEVER---and this is a BIG HOWEVER---that doesn’t mean that you can’t have an amazing holiday enjoying the blessings in your life that you have RIGHT NOW. You can CHOOSE to have a fantastic Christmas.
How do you make that choice?
#1 Force your brain to STOP thinking about everything you’re missing.
Seriously, you need to just tell your brain to STOP. The Bible calls it taking our thoughts captive.
2 Corinthians 10:5: We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
You are the only person who can control your thoughts and emotions. But the great part about this is that you can control them---they don’t have to control you. You can choose to stop thinking about the things that make you sad or depressed, angry or bitter. You don’t have to spend your holidays wishing you were somewhere or someone else, but YOU make the choice to say, “Nope, not going there---I’m going to take another path.”
#2 Choose to Enjoy the Things God has Given You
The secret to having a truly happy holiday is choosing to enjoy what is in your life RIGHT NOW.
Instead of wishing you had a bigger, nicer, fancier house, (or even a home of your own) fill the place where you live with people. Stop worrying about the décor and have the gathering you want to have this year.
Maybe you aren’t living near your family or you there are issues that are keeping you apart. My suggestion: Embrace your church family and friends---find other people who are spending the holidays alone and celebrate together.
If finances are tight and gifts are impossible, then be creative. Try homemade gifts or focus on fun activities instead of games.
Choose to celebrate the season in the best way that you can where you are right now.
Because the truth is that when you make the choice to start enjoying the life God’s given you---that’s when you’ll learn to enjoy every day, every season, no matter what time of year.
I can tell you from experience that this is the best choice you can ever make.
It’s the lesson we learned in the old tale “The Christmas Story”: The Scrooge who had everything had a miserable Christmas; while the Crotchets, who had very little, chose to celebrate the season in every way that they could.
This year, what choice will you make?
I know I’ve already made mine. I am going to celebrate.
It may not be a big fancy celebration or even as grand as the memories of Christmas’ gone by---still I’ll decorate my home, make some special treats, head off to Christmas Eve service with my church family and exchange gifts with my brother. And I will enjoy it.
Not because it will be perfect, but because I will choose to celebrate.
I hope you’ll make the same choice and have a very Merry Christmas.