Christmas Vacation: Thoughts and Questions

by Jacob Juncker

I hate to state the obvious, but Christmas is a busy time of year.  We start the season out with a lack of sleep as we get up early to catch the “best” deals of the season on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving.  We fill December, a time traditionally set aside for patient preparation for the birth of Christ our Savior (Advent), with “Christmas” parties and school programs.  And in the midst of all this activity, we still have to keep up with the mundane things of life: laundry, school, work, dirty dishes, mud on the carpet, eating, and all the other things “normal” things of life.  It is no wonder that when December 25th rolls around, we’re spiritually, physically, and financially drained.

By the time Christmas Day arrives, are you tired from all the “preparation”–over-eating, over-extending, and over-spending?

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is the best cinematic portrayal of how our expectations of a “perfect” and “traditional” Christmas can drain us spiritually, physically and financially.

Most of us can identify with the character Clark Griswold, who does everything within his control to give his family the gift of a perfect Christmas.

The movie begins with Clark taking his family into the wilderness in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  After a road rage accident, which ends with the family station wagon crashing into a snowbank, the Griswolds set off into the wilderness on foot.  After a lengthy march in the snow, Clark finds the perfect tree, only to realize that he forgot to bring a saw.

From wrestling with strands of Christmas lights that won’t work to suffering with extended relatives, the Griswolds continue to face experiences that would prompt most of us to say, “Been there, done that…”

Like Clark, our intentions to plan a “good, old-fashioned family Christmas” fail to live up to the elusive Rockwellian expectations promoted by Madison Avenue marketers.

Consumer-focused marketing and Victorian Christmas traditions have replaced the biblical meaning of “God with us.”

~Michael Slaughter in Christmas is Not Your Birthday

The good news of Christmas is not that we will get all the “crap we don’t need” on our Christmas list.  The Good News is “Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, And they will call him, Emmanuel. (Emmanuel means ‘God with us.’)” (Matthew 1:23, Common English Bible).

How do you know and experience Emmanuel (God with us) during Christmas?

How can you help others know and experience Emmanuel (God with us)?