Too Much Christmas?
Brent Van Elswyk, Associate Pastor of Families & Counseling
December 5, 2013
Everything in life is a choice. Every second of every day we are choosing one thing or another. Our lives are defined by the choices we make! But there is a puzzling irony about choices and the impact they have on our lives. Barry Swartz, in his book, The Paradox of Choice, identifies that irony when he states, “that while our choices determine and define us, too many choices will eventually become our downfall. When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable. As the number of available choices increases, as it has in our consumer culture, the autonomy, control and liberation this variety brings is powerful and positive. But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear. As the number of choices grows further, the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize!” In other words, too much of even a good thing is not good!
Could the same thing be happening with Christmas? Could there be too much Christmas – where our choices don’t lead us to worship and celebration but instead lead us to overload and debilitation? Does the pure abundance of choices available to us, e.g. parties to attend, activities to perform, obligations to complete, shopping to do, wrapping to finish, cooking to finalize, church to attend, family/friends to bear with, etc. liberate or debilitate? Are you able to worship and celebrate the “reason for the season” or are you just barely able to get through the “occasion of the season”? Christmas is the celebration of Immanuel, God with us! It is “good news of great joy… a savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). It is the peace of God and peace with God made possible through the Christ child - Jesus.
The following is a list of nine common areas where I have found that “too much Christmas” leads to the “holiday blues” and not the “holiday bliss” that should come to us at Christmas in the worship and celebrations of the “child born to us … whose name is “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is. 9:6).
1. Waiting until the “last minute”! Now I’m stressed because I don’t have enough time to get it all done.
2. Longing for the “Old Times”! Now I’m stressed because Christmas isn’t the same anymore.
3. Overspending and overeating! Now I’m stressed because I have to buy all those gifts and eat what is offered.
4. Deciding between the In-laws! Now I’m stressed because of the pressure to please everybody.
5. Holiday Obligations! Now I’m stressed because I have so many people to see, places to go, and things to do.
6. Compassion Fatigue! Now I’m stressed because there is so much need in the world.
7. Year-end regrets! Now I’m stressed because life just hasn’t turned out like I had hoped.
8. Jealousy! Now I’m stressed because I don’t understand why can’t I have what they have.
9. Expectations! Now I’m stressed because the way things are isn’t the way they are supposed to be.
We need to identify when and where our choices will have the most profound impact and concentrate our efforts there. We need to learn to make good choices about the things that matter, while at the same time unburdening ourselves from the things that don’t. We must decide when choice really matters and focus our energies there, even if it means letting many other opportunities pass us by. “The choice of when to be a chooser may be the most important choice we have to make”. Let’s be wise choosers this Christmas! Like the wise men of Matt. 2, wise choosers still choose Christ, still worship Christ, still bring gifts to Christ, and still follow after Christ (Matt. 2:2-11). Joshua put it this way, “Choose this day whom you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). The need to choose wisely is perhaps no more true than at Christmas, when too much Christmas may not be a good thing. What will your choice be this Christmas?