rebelling against low expectations

Christmas Is Not About Perfection

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Have you ever felt cheated out of Christmas?

Let me explain. We build this holiday up in our minds. Create an ideal—the way it’s “supposed to be.” There’s all the decorations, lights, cookies and carols, snow outside and steaming hot chocolate. The love, joy, peace and goodwill to all men. It’s so perfect and beautiful, and it’s what we all want.

But real life falls short.

Way, way short.

Oh sure, the stores promise you can have the perfect and ideal holiday if you just purchase this item, wear that outfit, or listen to this song. But it’s all a lie. We pin our hopes on their empty promises and catchy advertisements, daydream about them, and then we’re disappointed if it isn’t all they said it would be.

It never is.

Last Christmas our power went out. It wasn’t idyllic at all. On Christmas Eve, instead of watching a good Christmas movie while sipping hot chocolate, we were outside in the cold until midnight trying to hook up a borrowed generator we were only able to run about half the time. For Christmas dinner, we didn’t have the elaborate spread we had planned, just a few things we could heat up on our gas stove-top. Because of that experience, I learned that Christmas wasn’t about the ideal.

But oh, how quickly we forget the lessons we learn.

This year, I don’t know if we’ll have the perfect Christmas Day, but we’ve already not had the perfect Christmas season. So I’m learning that lesson all over again.

Call me cynical, or call me Scrooge, but I think our ideal is way off base. Don’t get me wrong; I love the traditions and enjoy the season as much as anyone. But that’s not what Christmas is about.

It’s about Jesus and the beginning of the redemption of our sins.

We’ve created a day to celebrate His imperfect, but oh-so-perfect birth. Think about it. The fact that He was born to a virgin—an unmarried teenage girl—was definitely not ideal, but absolutely what God had in mind. Then He was born in a stable—not even a house. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but definitely divinely planned.

How did we turn the breathtaking beauty of that event into a materialistic holiday where we get upset if it doesn’t go the way we planned?

Christmas is so much more than the day, or even the season. It’s more than the celebrations and gifts.

We have traded the greatest joy, for a lesser pleasure.

We should celebrate Christmas every day of the year. Without it, we wouldn’t have the amazing, humbling sacrifice of our Savior dying on the cross.

When I think of Christmas this way, I realize it’s okay if it doesn’t match up to what I think it should be. It’s all right if I spend Christmas Eve outside in the cold. Because the celebration of Christmas is age-long and worthy of so much more than just one day.

I want to rejoice in Christmas all 365 days of the year and share the light and hope of that baby boy who was born in a stable with the whole world.

And yes, I will enjoy Christmas Day, flawed though it will be. Because I’ll be choosing to remember the imperfect day when our most perfect Savior was born.

Will you join me?


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  • Sara, thanks for this article which helps us to focus on the real importance of the season and not get caught up in the world’s perspective!!

    • You are very welcome, Chris! It’s a struggle, to be sure, but one that comes with a beautiful reward if we succeed! Thanks so much for reading!

  • I think this is something everyone needs to know, after all, Jesus’s birth is the reason Christmas came about, a lot of people forget what Christmas is really about. Some people dont have a nice Christmas, or it doesn’t go the way they planned it, but if you add God into the mixture, the puzzle is complete and you get the full picture, making it a better christmas, because you put God into it.

    • Exactly!!! That’s so true, and you put it so well! Thanks for reading, and sharing your thoughts,Olivia! <3

  • Wow, this is great! I have been really bad this year about focusing on my ideal Christmas- I have been let down big time! I realize that I haven’t put Jesus in the spotlight that he should be in. Thanks for the article!

    • It is SO hard, and I completely understand what you mean! I love how you said we should put Jesus in the spotlight…so true! Thank you for sharing, Katelyn!

  • Thanks for reminding me that the first Christmas was anything but perfect. 🙂 The taxation Caeser Agustus imposed must have come as a big upset to Mary and Joseph’s plans. Giving birth in a stable was far from ideal. Being visited by a bunch of strange shepherds probably wasn’t anything like the cozy family gathering/celebration they would have had back at home.

    It wasn’t (I believe) the way they would have planned things at all, but God’s plans were different from theirs (just like they often are from ours) and things went just the way He willed them to.

    Thanks for this article! This Christmas I will join you in choosing to remember that very first Christmas, an imperfect day, because our perfect Savior was born in it. Our imperfect world has been forever blessed ever since. 🙂

    • Amen! I agree, the birth and death of Jesus was, and is, the greatest blessing and gift this world has ever received!

      And yes, God’s plans are often different from ours, but absolutely perfect! Thank you for reading, Mallory! <3

  • This is great Sara! I think we definitely have a tendency to want to have a perfect day on Christmas, and that leads to a lot of shattered expectations. Thanks for sharing with us! 😉

By Sara Barratt
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →