Monday, December 17, 2012

After the Partys Over

After the Party's Over
Jennifer AlLee

Tis the season to go crazy... Fa la la la la, la la la la...

This is a bizarre Christmas for me. Usually, I put my tree up right after Thanksgiving, and then I get to work on the annual Christmas newsletter. But this year, things feel a little out of whack. I only just got the tree up yesterday, and I'm fairly sure there will be no newsletter this year. Oh, and presents... Other than taking care of my teenage son, I haven't gotten anything else.

I don't mind telling you, I was feeling a bit inadequate. Was I just going to let the holiday slip by without celebrating? And then I read something on Facebook about a segment on the Today Show where one of the "experts" said this about Christmas: "I don't like the religion part. I think religion is what mucks the whole thing up." She followed that up with, "I want the green trees and it smells good and everyone's happy."

To be honest, I thought it was another instance of a prank story, something that someone made up and posted and spread like a virus. So I looked it up and was surprised to find out that it was no joke; it really happened.

It made me sad for the person who said it, but it also made me think about my own attitude. Because after the tree has turned brown, and the house smells like normal again, and the happy holiday facade has left the faces of the relatives you only see once a year... what's left? If all we hold dear about Christmas are the trappings, the parties, the outward display, then it really turns into a hollow celebration, doesn't it?

For me, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. It's also a time to celebrate the promise of what could be all year long. Think about it. Imagine if we all embraced the loving, giving spirit of Christmas, not just in the winter, or on December 25th, but all year long. How amazing that would be!

So I'm not worried about my tree anymore (which is covered with a hodgepodge of sentimental ornaments, none of which match). And I'm not worried about the Christmas card (because I will send something to all the people I love, even if it's after Christmas, to remind them how special they are). What I want to do, especially this year, is love God and meditate on how special and precious His Christmas gift is. Because, when the party's over, He's the one I'm going home with.

How about you? Have you found any special ways to keep the spirit of Christmas alive through out the year?

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her novels include The Love of His Brother (Five Star, 11/07), The Pastor’s Wife (Abingdon Press, 2/10), The Mother Road (Abingdon Press, 4/12) and the upcoming A Wild Goose Chase Christmas (Abingdon Press, 11/12). She's thrilled to be working on her first historical series with the amazing Lisa Karon Richardson. Diamond in the Rough is the first book in the Charm and Deceit series, to be released in 2013 by Whitaker House. And... as if that's not enough, her novella Comfort and Joy will appear in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Memories (Barbour, 9/13) She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
Visit Jennifer's website at


  1. That's really sad about not wanting the "religion" in Christmas.

    Yes, it would be lovely if people kept this spirit all year round. Christmastime just feels different.

  2. I feel less grinchy now.
    Christmas has, sadly, been a disappointing holiday to me in the past. I recall the STRESS of trying to get so much done. First there's those traditions of decorating and baking, plus the socializing we are supposed to do. Then there is the stress of trying to find the right gifts. The list goes on. Christmas ads and songs remind us of how happy we are supposed to be at this most wonderful time of the year, yet I often see STRESS on people's faces instead.

    I am now a minimalist (good thing as I went back to work unexpectantly and lost any extra time I thought I had to do things)

    My family's Christmas is very relaxed. A nice family day together to watch the kids and eat well and relax. A lovely Christmas program or three at church. Holiday traditions are all fine and good but if we feel we are failing to follow them all, we are definitely losing the value of what it's all about.

    What it's all about is true every other day of the year anyway, right?

  3. I usually love Christmas and all the trimmings, but have been having a hard time getting into it this year. Partially due to busyness, partially due to abnormally warm weather. And then last week's tragedy has left me feeling as if it would be selfish to celebrate when other parents are in so much pain right now.

    But if we focus on the heart of Christmas, the birth of the Christ child, then it's possible to recenter and renew our hope rather than being drained by westernized ideals of what the holiday is meant to be.

  4. wow. for someone to not like the "religion" part of Christmas... what's left?

    i try not to get too panicky as Christmas approaches. i tend to make gifts for family along with the small purchases. i think the fact that this Christmas is the first my toddler seems to really understand what is going on has kept me grounded. i want him to know that Christmas is all about baby Jesus' arrival and what it means.

    of course, that doesn't mean i've gotten a grip on not getting a bit testy because i haven't gotten everything done that i wanted. i'm still working on that. then, my little guy pulls on my hand and says "play with me, momma" and i do stop and play. so far, it's helped my attitude turn around.

    thank God for children. (which is why my heart still bleeds for the parents in Newtown, CT)

  5. Hmmmm..... I find it interesting that the person wants to keep religion out of Christmas. I wonder if she / he sends out cards that say "Merry -mas" on them? I don't even know how they said that with a straight face.

    Jen, I have had an extremely difficult time getting into the decorating and shopping part of Christmas since my son moved out. That's been one of the hardest adjustments of my life. And I blame it more on "empty nest" than on being a Scrooge. Outwardly, to others, I do use the Scrooge excuse. But inwardly I know it's the empty nest. I've taken steps to remedy that this year and I bought my first Christmas tree since my son moved away. It's mall, but I think it's already helped lift my spirits.

  6. I put our tree up November 1. Took about a week to finally get it strung with lights and decorated. My sister-in-law and her fam are home from Saudi Arabia, so between the kids going to school and spending time with cousins or friends, we don't really have much time to stress about expectations. Hubby and I did the christmas shopping for the kids and family in about 30min on Amazon.

    Cousin Mike has put together play of the Nativity story.

    So Christmas for us is being together, loving one another, and worshipping Jesus.

  7. Good morning, Ladies! Just to be clear, I have NO problem with gifts and decorations... those things are all wonderful. But it's okay if we don't do it up big. As so many of you have said, it's the spirit that's important, and the time spent with those we love.

    As for the lady I quoted, I purposely didn't mention her name, because I didn't want to bash her. But I do pray that she moves beyond the tree and the smell and the smiles.

  8. Christmas has been pretty stressful for me in years past. I'm working on learning how to enjoy it without allowing the stress in. Less parties are actually one of my strategies.

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  10. Good one, Jen! Unfortunately, that woman who doesn't want religion in Christmas is not alone.

    This year our church is doing a live Nativity with donkeys, sheep, a mini-horse, chickens, you name it, at the local auction barn. Yes, it will be messy and very unchurch building-like. But when Pastor Lorne heard that many school kids in K to Grade 2-3 didn't know the origin of Christmas, he decided that instead of holding a Christmas concert in the church and trying to attract attendees, we were going to bring the true meaning of Christmas to the masses.

    Not that there will be hoards of people attending, but we'll leave that up to God.

    My part is to ensure the script is in the right hands and that everyone understands the set directions, music cues, etc. I think I'm the director because although no official designation has been made, I've caught the crew pointing at me while whispering the 'D' word. Ha!

    And since we're working in a public venue without access until the day of the performance, we're relegated to emails, text messages and phone calls.

    I've had a constant tummy-ache for a week now which I'm beginning to believe has something to do with stress, but at the same time, I feel more Christmassy than the past several years.

    Off to do some baking...

  11. Oh, I am so sad, hearing that comment about "the religion part". I'm heavy-hearted today anyway, still reeling from the Newton tragedy. If ever there was a reminder of what Christmas is about, this is it: the world is broken, and God sent His Son to be its redeemer, Lord, and savior.

    I'm a bit stressed, but this Christmas will be hard on our family this year because we've lost a mom and grandma. Jesus has to be in the middle of everything or I'd fall apart.

  12. Anita, dear, you most certainly are the director... and I know you're doing a fabulous job! The most important thing to remember about Christmas programs is this: they always come together in the end. No matter what happens, no matter how hectic it feels ahead of time, rest in the assurance that all who attend, and all who participate will be blessed. So take a deep breath and relax (as much as you can).

  13. Susie, all I can say is, I know exactly how you feel. Hugs, Sweetie :+)


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