This morning I was up early, tidying up. I was putting some books away when my eyes fell upon our nativity scene that sits on top of our toy bin shelf. Everything was in place except the most important part--the baby Jesus was missing.
I discovered He'd fallen onto the floor next to the toy bin shelf, and I put Him back where He belonged. But as I continued folding laundry, I realized that so far this December I've been all about the stuff of Christmas. Now, when I say stuff I don't mean the commercialism or the presents--it's more the traditions that I've put on a pedestal. Like right now as I type this, the house is lit up with Christmas lights, there's a fire in the fireplace, the aroma of mulled apple cider fills the air, and Christmas music is playing. It's beautiful. We've been doing our advent calendar each day, and at dinner each night we pray for the families who sent us a Christmas card that day. I LOVE traditions, and I LOVE this time of year.
But I haven't yet given a great deal of thought to Jesus' birth as much as I have these beloved traditions. Maybe I hold extra tight to tradition because I'll be 3,000 miles away from the ones who passed down those traditions to me, the ones who taught me early on that family is something precious. But as great as all these things are, Christmas isn't even about them.
Two years ago my grandparents sent a box of presents to us, and I took the presents out of the box and placed them under our tree. I was about to throw the box away when I realized it felt like something else was in there. So after another look, under a piece of cardboard in the box was a scrapbook my Grandma Eileen made of photos of me from birth until my teen years--some I'd never even seen before. She even included letters I'd written to them when I was really young. It was perfect, and it still means the world to me. Can you imagine if I'd missed out on what ended up the most valuable thing under my tree?
If I had, it still would pale in comparison to going through December with all its beauty and traditions and missing JESUS. I want to love Him more this Christmas, more than the traditions, more than family, more than anything. No idols before Him. Not even traditions that surround His birthday.