What do you envision when you think about Christmas?  It is easy to conjure Christmas images because there is no season of the year so full of nostalgia and ripe with expectation.  What are your Christmas Expectations?

It is easy to conjure Christmas images because there is no season of the year so full of nostalgia and ripe with expectation.  It is hard not to become excited about this joyous occasion.  Visions of sugar plums, or their contemporary equivalent, dance in our heads as our favorite carols are played on the radio and our environment is transformed to reflect the coming holiday.

But, have you ever been disappointed by Christmas? Maybe you were even disappointed this year? Did you expect something for Christmas that didn’t materialize?  Maybe you were expecting someone to come home for the holiday who didn’t arrive.  Maybe you didn’t receive the present you were looking for—the latest video game or smartphone or tablet?  Maybe you just had this feeling of anticipation for something that just never happened.

Christmas can be that way. During the holidays, we begin living in a state of perpetual excitement, building up hopes and dreams that the holiday doesn’t always fulfill. When the season passes and winter sets in, we feel sad and let down. This is one reason people often feel depressed after the holiday.

That’s too bad, because you know what the real message of Christmas is about?  It’s about what we don’t expect.  That’s right!  Christmas isn’t about what we expect; it’s about what we don’t expect.

Think about it.  Zechariah and Elizabeth didn’t expect to have a baby in their old age.  Mary didn’t expect to become the mother of the Son of God.  She couldn’t believe it when the angel told her.  “Why, I’m not even married”, she said.  Joseph didn’t expect his young bride to be pregnant.  Herod didn’t expect to be disturbed by the word of the Child.  The shepherds didn’t expect to see angels in their fields.  The Magi didn’t expect to find the Savior of the world born in a manger in a poor little country village like Bethlehem.  The whole thing was a surprise.  God surprised everybody that first Christmas.

And when you think about Jesus’ teachings, you realize that surprise is in the nature of who God is.  God is full of surprises.  The meek shall inherit the earth.  Think about that.  That’s really a surprise, isn’t it?  When you look around and see the people who shove and push and talk the loudest getting ahead of everybody else, you wonder about the meek.  The first shall be last and the last first.  That’s another winner.  The high and the mighty going into heaven behind the lowly and the poor.

You see, it isn’t a matter of what we’re expecting for Christmas.  It’s what we don’t expect.  That’s what we ought to be looking for, what we don’t expect because that’s the way God is.  God is a God of surprises.

There’s nothing wrong with traditional Christmas celebrations, in fact, they’re great! Enjoy the trees and lights, family dinners and music and presents, and all the rest.  But we ought to realize that God may have some surprises in store for us this Christmas. God doesn’t always come to us in the old familiar ways, so be open to hearing and seeing God’s surprises. God may speak to us in a new way, or in a new place where we least expect it.  The surprises of God!  We never know what they will be or when they are coming, but the word of the gospel is that they are present and that they do come.  This is what Christmas is all about. 

Remember each and every Christmas:

It’s sharing your gifts, not purchasing gifts.

It’s not wrapping presents, its being present and wrapping your arms around the ones you love.

It’s not getting Christmas cards out on time, it’s sending any card, anytime, at the right time.

It’s not having the biggest and best Christmas light display, it’s displaying the light of Christ that shines from your heart.

It’s not Santa coming down the chimney, it’s Jesus coming down from heaven in the form of a baby, and giving us the gift of eternal life.”

Article Adapted from Fraternally Yours