“…Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and thought about them often.” (Luke 2:19 NLT)
Like Mary, I was in a strange town; I had lost my job, and my family would be out of state for Christmas. Instead of jingle bells I was hearing bill collectors ringing my phone. Depression was keeping me in bed or watching TV so I could turn off reality. It didn’t work.
Then I remembered a story about two men breaking into the apartment of an old lady. It was dark and they were not expecting her to be home, but there she was. They tied her to a chair while searching for jewelry and Christmas gifts. She insisted that there were none; and tried to explain that she had made the choice not to have Christmas so she wouldn’t be lonely and sad.
I, too, had a choice to make. I could be alone or I could be lonely and miserable.
If you are alone or having difficulties this Christmas season, I want to know that Mary, Jesus’ mother, knew loneliness that first Christmas Day even with Joseph at her side. She had delivered the holy infant Son of God miles away from family and would not be able to return to her home in Nazareth for several years. Everything she and Joseph planned was null and void once the census was announced. The cradle Joseph had lovingly craved in his workshop couldn’t go to Bethlehem. Nor could the specially woven basket and layette Mary made… only basics could be taken with them.
Mary knew she had the responsibility of raising God’s Son¾a task she could never discuss at the well with local MOPS ladies. As devoted a father Joseph probably was, the burden still fell upon Mary, who would eventually be kneeling at the foot of the cross when Jesus died.
When we think of Mary, our perspective changes. Christmas, often, doesn’t measure up to our expectations. For others, they are too busy to enjoy the celebration. Yet we can make a choice based on what we have rather than on what we want.
I’ve now retired and live near the beautiful snow-topped Cascade Mountains. I often am alone for Christmas, but each year I mix my traditions:
• baking cookies to share,
• knitting gifts,
• writing letters to far away friends,
• attending a Christmas Eve service,
• listening to my favorite carols and the Messiah,
• reading Christmas mysteries,
• watching Christmas movies
with new ways to re-tune my heart in preparation for Jesus’ birthday. This year I’m creating a Jessie Tree (Jesus Family Tree) and reading a coordinating devotional each day. And I am writing to encourage you!
Regardless of circumstances, we must remember that Christmas isn’t about stuff. It’s our heart relationship with the Lover of our Soul. As long as we are celebrating with Jesus, we are never alone and never lonely.
ã 2014 Constance Gilbert