Pretty Paper and a Shiny Bow

It’s December already! Each year I am on this earth it comes quicker and quicker. I feel like it’s January, June, and then December. A whole year in 3 months. How is that possible? When I was a little girl it seemed like the time from the Sears and Roebucks Gift Catalog came in the mail until Christmas Day took forever. I love Christmas! I love everything about it. The smells. The tastes. The sounds. The sights. And oh, the feels!

Christmas gets my emotions up and running full scale.

I want to do for everyone. I want to give to everyone. I want to make it the most magical and enchanting time of the year as I possibly can…until I can’t!

It hit me several years ago. Our family was on an excursion to the mall to purchase gifts for each other. We had lunch together, after which the kiddos, being old enough, ventured off on their own while the hubs and I walked and talked. The mall was packed and I was listening to the chatter of people. I kept hearing over and over, “I’ve got to put up the tree. I’ve got to put up the Christmas lights. I’ve got to bake cookies for the holidays. I need to go to the grocery store. I’ve got to buy a gift for your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, my mom, my dad and …” The lists went on and on.

What struck me wasn’t the list, but the “I’ve got to’s” and the “I need to’s”. I was immediately disgusted with myself more than anything else. December and Christmas had turned into “I’ve got to’s, I need to’s”, a long list of self-expectations. I think that whole time at the mall I didn’t hear one person say, “I would like to” or I want to” or, more importantly, “I would love to”.

I had forgotten what Christmas was about and when it rolled around I would go into true cliché mode along with the culture of this country.

“Christmas is about love.” “It’s not about the gift, it’s about the giver.” “It’s Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays.” “Celebrate Christmas in your heart all year.” I would say the words, but that’s not what I was doing in my heart.

“But no more. No more!” I said to myself. I fell in love with Christmas all over again and my Christmas Cards were put in the mail the following February. It felt good. It felt right. I truly heard what Christmas wasn’t and in my heart, I felt what it has always been…the gift.

Christmas has always been – THE GIFT!

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

The gift is simple. God loved me enough to send His son to die for me. Nothing for me to do other than say I believe and accept His gift. He has the same gift for you, too. That Christmas I gave myself the gift of “I don’t gotta”.

I “don’t gotta” make Christmas magical and enchanting. God already did!

Disclaimer – I still do stuff for Christmas but I don’t stress myself out and sometimes, it means you may get a gift from me in January, June, or December or some other month that goes way too quickly these days.



Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Laura Rodgers
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  1. Sarah Robinson on December 15, 2017 at 9:49 AM

    We can sure relate! Thankful to have thrown off the “I must”s and to now embrace the simple joys.
    Merry Christmas!

  2. Jen on December 20, 2017 at 1:18 PM

    Every morning I start with “I’ve got to” and “I need to” – not just at Christmas. But I miss out on so much goodness because of this way of thinking. Thanks for giving me something to contemplate!

  3. Gretchen Hanna on December 20, 2017 at 2:45 PM

    Yes! Here’s to the “get tos”. We get to celebrate our perfect, personal God who made Himself lowly for us. Wow.

  4. Diane Tarantini on December 27, 2017 at 12:28 PM

    Great post, Laura. You are so right! Life is so much better when we frame it as “get to” instead of “have to.” I was a lot less regimented and productive regarding Christmas this year and the world did NOT fall apart. What do you know?

  5. Diane on January 3, 2018 at 11:48 AM

    “a long list of self-expectations'” – I am reading this post-Christmas which makes me so aware of how this applies to our everyday life – and how God has made every day so very perfect, so very done, so very all. Thanks for this sweet perspective.

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