American Association of Christian Counselors
American Association of Christian Counselors

Stop and Smell the Holly

Dan Seaborn, M.A.

 

I can just about hear a popping noise in my head as circuits become overloaded. My eyes glaze over from wires crossing at a rapid pace because of the information being filtered to my brain. At the same time, bright colors awaken my senses and get my heart pumping. Words are seared into my soul, creating a longing that wasn’t there just minutes before.

The cause? It’s all the Christmas ads I’m viewing in the paper along with the pop-ups ads I’m seeing online. It’s the computerized billboards that flash vivid images as I’m driving and the clever jingles I hear in my head for weeks from TV commercials—like Chi-Chi-Chi-Chia! Now it’s in your head. All of it stirs a desire in me for things I didn’t even know I wanted or don’t come close to needing.

Do I really want that item or was I seduced by the media into thinking I wanted it? It’s the ugly side of Christmas that I could do without, but it’s beautiful for retailers. I heard about one Toys “R” Us location in Times Square that is actually staying open a record 543 hours, around the clock, to keep up with the demand and to offer convenience for shoppers. While I appreciate that this time of year stimulates the economy and keeps money flowing through everybody’s hands, it’s also a time when people tend to overspend.

A fifth of everything, one out of every five items we buy, is more than we can afford. We’re adding interest on top of that, living more and more on borrowed dimes, and yet we’re still signing up for mountains of new credit cards each December. Everything about Christmas tugs on our emotional strings and we kill ourselves every year trying to create the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas picture.

We want to find the perfect gift, decorate the sweetest cookies, bake the most golden turkey and have everything go as planned, but that rarely happens. It’s usually not the seemingly perfect Christmas that is the most memorable but the one where something went a little bit awry. Aunt Jean’s mashed potatoes are a little lumpy. Nothing you received is the right size. The turkey took about an hour longer to cook than you planned.

 A Savior was born to us because of our imperfections, and yet, sometimes, remembering the Savior is what we forget because we’re trying to be perfect.  While people love to give gifts, Christmas is really more about receiving and celebrating Christ’s love and allowing your weaknesses to be made perfect in His strength.

Weakness, however, is the last thing we want to exhibit during the holidays. Our goal is to show our strength by attending every party, shopping ‘til we drop, and not going to bed until every stocking is hung by the chimney with care. By the time Christmas morning arrives, we are oftentimes too exhausted to enjoy it.

This Christmas, I challenge you to take time to stop and smell the holly. Stand under the mistletoe for a few minutes and kiss your spouse. Make a few less cookies and make more time for your family to just enjoy each other’s company. Don’t engage in all the Christmas hype, but engage with each other in meaningful time together. Don’t fall prey to the hype, but instead, have yourself a merry “little” Christmas!

 

Dan Seaborn, M.A., is the director of the Marriage and Family Network of AACC as well as founder and president of Winning At Home, Inc., in Zeeland, Michigan. His organization produces media resources and hosts special events to develop and support marriages and families. Dan has authored over eleven books on the subject and his advice is broadcast to over 400 radio stations across the United States. As a featured speaker at various large-scale events, including Promise Keepers, Dan has earned recognition as a powerful and passionate communicator. Through energetic and memorable presentations, he uses practical illustrations and unforgettable real-life experiences to teach others how to win at home. Dan holds a master’s degree in Christian Ministries from Indiana Wesleyan University.

 

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