Last night a commercial came on television. It was a family shopping for Christmas decorations at Lowe’s and it immediately sent me on a trip down memory lane. It was almost as if the memory was framed in frosted window panes with candy cane dust sprinkled throughout as I recalled some very special moments. Before long I thought, “That really was the best Christmas ever.”
And then the Holy Spirit stopped me and said, “Don’t go there.”
“Don’t get all nostalgic and start feeling sad, wishing you were back there. You’re not remembering everything honestly.”
Then I started to remember.
Yes, there were some really good moments that I’ll always remember warmly, but there were also challenges, obstacles, and some really true heartache that I guess time has edited out of my memories of Christmas past.
In that moment, I was reminded of two lessons:
First, nostalgia is a tricky thing. It tends to edit out problems and pains and make us only remember the the best parts (sometimes it even makes them better than we remember.) As we celebrate Christmas, we need to avoid the temptation to let nostalgia make us sad and wish we were still in the past rather than embrace the season we’re in today.
Second, we need to remember that every Christmas has it’s good times and it’s difficult times. They all have laughter and joy but few are without obstacles and challenges. The key to enjoying the holidays and making good memories is choosing to celebrate through the difficult times in the best way that you can.
Looking back in truth I can now remember the challenges, yet, I also remember that the reasons there were good times is because my Mom decided that she was going to celebrate despite the difficulties and do the best we could to have a happy holiday season. Years later, those are the things I remember---the things we chose to embrace.
So this season, I don’t know what you’re facing. I’m just praying that you won’t allow either nostalgia or the idea that Christmas needs to be “perfect” to steal the beautiful times you could have this holiday season.
Who knows, you’re choice to embrace the season and celebrate it no matter what’s happening in your circumstances may lead to looking back years later and thinking, “Wow, that really was a great Christmas!”