christmas idea


Celebrating Christ at Christmas: 
Having your cake and eating it too!

by Amy Tanner

The holiday hustle and bustle is upon us once again. Stores are crowded with shoppers trying to find that perfect gift, the streets are filled with travelers in route to locate that perfect gift, and the check out line at any retail shop is overflowing with consumers anxious to get out of the store to get to another store to find another perfect gift. It is merely exhausting to enter huge, retail department and warehouse stores and it is most discouraging to hear the complaints and criticisms some shoppers have. Some of us have made a habit out of getting frustrated over ordinary, daily events, that in today's world, being any other way than frazzled and bedazzled during the holiday season is far from normal. It has gotten such a rise out of some people that there are currently books you can purchase about how to stress - free your holidays. There are even classes you can attend that are designed to relax you and help you make sense of why you are troubled, burdened, and even questioning your own tradition. 

Such a scenario has pushed my brain into overdrive. (Happens a lot.) Such an observation has gotten me ready for what I know to be a new revelation for me. I know it is God's way of giving me experience with which through the enlightenment of it all, I can view much clearer what it is I am being taught. Such thoughts are prerequisite and all that is needed to make me understand what I have never fully comprehended before. (See what happens?) Stay with me now and just relax, for I merely intend to tell you briefly what has been on my mind lately. A disclaimer- it is good news and it is stress- free advice! And it involves cake! 

I ask myself and you, what is the reason for attempting to locate that perfect gift? Why are we so tired and bothered over such things as having enough presents for our kids and having enough money for the gifts? Why is our focus on trivial things like quantity, expectation, cost and performance? Why are we intent on consistently doing the things that cause us to become bothered? If your holiday season's focus is on such hectic circumstances, life any other way than frustration and strife is impossible! If you ask me, the popular belief among some of us that says we must purchase the perfect gift is missing the point of the celebration. I know they're not eating cake. 

You and I are in pursuit of an expectation that has been placed on us by our society. An expectation that leads to dissatisfaction. Speaking from experience, expectations only lead to failure and stress. As a mom, the expectation I have for my children to always behave will only frustrate me. As a wife, the expectation I have for my husband to always say the right thing at the right time will only cause me to stress out. But stress is not the reason for the season and has never been designed to be. Our focus is on little, distracting things. Our focus should be on one important thing. The season should be a celebration of life, old traditions, and new beginnings. Eat cake! 

I have learned in my life one very important lesson and it was learned many years ago after the death of my firstborn son a week before Christmas. The lesson is simply this. There are major events in life and there are minor events in life. The key to understanding the real reason for the season comes in learning how to separate the minor events in your life from the major episodes. Just what is a major episode, you ask? Death is a major episode. Attending your newborn's funeral is a major episode. The death of your spouse is a major episode. Being diagnosed with breast cancer is a major episode. Your house burning down to the ground is a major episode. Deciding on a gift is not a major episode. Celebrations can come and go and major episodes will not go away but what you needed to learn will. 

Ask yourself if locating the perfect gift is important enough to be on the top of your list. Ask yourself if a celebration of the real reason for the season is eventful enough to make time for. When your children are gone, will they remember the gift or the celebration? Today do you feel at peace as you shop for the loved ones on your list? Are you sharing with them a celebration of tradition? A celebration can be enjoyed only if you take the time to recall its meaning and to remember its purpose. Just why do you buy gifts, visit family, and drive halfway across the state? Are you celebrating the season or are you habitually going through the motions? Have you found what that one thing is that gives you peace? Is it cake? 

During the holiday season there is one way that I find peace. I visit my son's grave. It is there that everything makes sense to me. It is there that all the nonsense of those around me who have not chosen to receive God's gift of reason and purpose are meaningless. It is there that temporarily all the words of those who are struggling and stressed cease from my ears. It is there that all the hurry and rush ends, for there I view what was to be, what is now, and what is still yet to come. It is there that the experience of my sons' birth and death become reality, and it is there that I truly pray for the two children God has blessed me with. It is there that I truly am aware of the reason of the season, for without the death of one man, my life would have never existed. It is there that I understand that without the love of one special baby, my life would have never been what it is today. It is there that I recall a birth. Mine. I eat cake and I remember the celebration.

During the holiday season I have much for which to be unhappy about. I have much to be angry about. I have much to stress out about. I have much to grieve about. But it is my choice to focus not on what the world expects of me, but what I expect from myself and what my savior expects of me. There is much to celebrate about during the holiday season. A one, true miracle was born to a special woman, and in her he entrusted the baby that would one day bring her life. That is what I remember at the grave and that is what I remember at the cross. 

During this holiday season, celebrate! Renew your focus on what really matters. What matters is life. What matters is love. What matters is others. What matters is Jesus! Now, would you please let me pass you in line? I have a cake to make. 

Amy Tanner,
Mother of three, music teacher, songwriter, author, and motivational speaker
Founder, True Reflections Women's Ministry
Visit for Amy's music
Visit Reflections for information on Amy's ministry

This article provided by the Family Content Archives at:







(c) 2003 Caton Family

christmas presents