I know that it is the season of Advent, but Christmas is on my heart and mind. It’s hard to avoid, since, in the words of fictional rock-n-roll legend Billy Mack, “Christmas is all around.” Christmas is on tv, in stores, in our email boxes, and of course, we’re inundated with holiday musical classics.
For me, the Mariah Carey classic “All I want for Christmas is You” will always conjure my favorite scene from one of my favorite holiday movies of all time, Love Actually. There are many reasons I love Love Actually, but primarily for me it is an annual reminder that this time of year has a special power of bringing us closer to those we love. It’s a reminder to not lose focus on what matters the most: our relationships.
This movie also highlights how Christmas can be difficult for many people and exacerbate strained, distant, or broken relationships. Though Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the Church calendar, they’re also challenging for me. My oldest daughter lives most of the year 457 miles away. Our Christmas time is split so that she is with our immediate family every other year.
This year, my daughter will be home for Christmas.
So I’m singing these lyrics loud and proud. All I want for Christmas is to be with my wife and my three children, all celebrating the joy and wonder of Christmas together. But the experience of preparing for Christmas this year has come with its own surprise. This year, it’s been a reminder of the most important relationship of Christmas: God’s relationship with me.
After all, isn’t that exactly what this time of year is about? God wanted each and every one of us for God’s own, more than we can ever know or understand. And that meant coming to be with us, submitting to a humble, human birth, in order to reconcile us to God’s own self. That is love, actually.
So this year, I don’t want a lot for Christmas. I want to teach my family the power of God’s incarnational love for them, that God would not stop at any length to love them and be with them. I plan to show my family that through the love we share with each other in our home this Advent and Christmas. And as we all prepare for the holidays, it is my hope and prayer that we all find true, actual love in our relationships, and especially the truest love and gift of all, the abundant desire of God’s heart to be with us forever.
[Image Credit: Kate Ausburn via Flickr]