Each December, as I’m standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, my eyes are inevitably drawn to the Christmas issues of the home and garden magazines. The cozy fireplace scenes with hand-stitched stockings and cute little puppies wearing plaid bows draw me in. For some reason, my vision of a Merry Christmas always seem to include a quaint log cabin in the woods, little ones dressed in footed-pajamas, with rosy cheeks and eyes filled with wonder. It includes breakfast casseroles with homemade cinnamon rolls and hot coffee at the push of a button—all served on holiday china.

However, at some point, between my purchase of the dreamy magazine at the checkout counter, and our actual Christmas morning, my ideal holiday bubble usually bursts. In reality, we wake up to the Christmas Eve mess from the night before. The kids come down the stairs in mismatched pjs,(often high-waters),their cute faces pale and tired. Our cinnamon rolls come in a can with orange frosting. And there is rarely a breakfast casserole. I do, however, use holiday paper plates!

Can you relate?

Please don’t misunderstand. I truly love Christmas! Despite my depressing description, I love celebrating Jesus’ birth, setting up a pretty tree, and choosing gifts that are “just right.” But almost every year there is some sort of let-down. Thoughts of having ‘missed the mark’ often fill my mind as I throw the last of the shredded wrapping paper away.

Why is that?

I’ve pondered this question for a long, long time, and I always come back to the same answer. It isn’t about magazine covers and idealistic notions. It isn’t about pretty lights or decorated trees.

Christmas is only and completely about the King of Kings, born to die on a tree.

In light of that, in light of Him, all pretense falls away. Everything pales in comparison. All the magazine images in the world don’t even come close to portraying the real Christmas scene. Jesus Christ is the best headline, the best article, and the best reason to have the Merriest Christmas Ever.


“For my eyes have seen your salvation,which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles,and the glory of your people Israel.” (Luke 2: 30-32 NKJV)

Dear Lord, help us to set our eyes on the real meaning of this season, the Gift born in a manager. Don’t allow us to get overwhelmed by anything, but instead be comforted by Your Peace. Amen.