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By Debbie Porter

You know, if December is considered to be the month of "peace on earth and good will toward all men", why then does it so often become a month of "stress in malls and irritation toward everyone who has all their gifts wrapped in July and Christmas cards sent by November"?

While not quite in the "Ebenezer Scrooge" category, I have to admit that I can definitely relate to the character of Luther Krank in John Grisham’s quirky novel, "Skipping Christmas." There are times when the thought of completely crossing December off the calendar, is very appealing.

Don’t get me wrong though. My Krank-like attitude has nothing at all to do with the real meaning of Christmas – the wondrous truth that 2,000 years ago "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (John 1:14 NIV)

No … there’s really only one reason for my occasional December downer, and that’s the not-so-little thing I refer to as "Christmas Tizz"!

"Christmas Tizz" usually begins around mid-October and lasts until we close our weary eyes to sleep on December 25. It spins us around in a whirlwind of activity as we attempt to make this one day as good as, or better than, every previous Christmas. It pushes people to overindulge, overspend, overwork and overdo virtually everything possible.

For a lot of people, "Christmas Tizz" is the highlight of their year. They thrive on the activity and get a real sense of pleasure from all their preparations. However, for every person who adores the "buzz", there’s at least one at the other end of the scale, shaking their head in resignation as they’re propelled faster and faster along this annual roller-coaster ride and guiltily wishing that they could get off.

But no matter where we fit on the enthusiasm scale, the reality is that we always need to keep changing our focus from "Christmas Tizz" to what Christmas IS!

When our focus is right, then Christmas IS a time of peace, ushered in by the Prince of Peace, who told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27 NIV.)

Not peace by the world’s standards, but rather an abiding peace that comes from knowing that God is in control and He cares for us completely.

Christmas IS also a time of hope, as we see in that miraculous birth the unfolding of God's plan to offer new, abundant, eternal life to all mankind. As the Apostle Paul wrote of the Lord’s ultimate sacrifice, "… he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel." (Colossians 1:22-23a NIV)

In a world that has exchanged wishes for hope; we have certain assurance because of what truly Christmas is.

Christmas IS a time of joy when we follow the Magi's example as they went in search of the King of kings. They weren’t just pleased to see His star guiding their way – they were overjoyed! (Matthew 2:10 NIV)

The Christmas story is a reason to be overflowing with joy. As the angel reassured the Shepherds on that marvelous night, "I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10 NIV)

Finally, Christmas IS a time of indescribable love as we receive the greatest gift of all. As John, "the Apostle of love," wrote, "…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 NIV)

In the birth of Christ, our Heavenly Father showed the fathomless depth of His love for a cold-hearted world. Today, that same gift of perfect love is still held out to all who will receive.

When you think about it, the need for "Christmas Tizz" revolves largely around the world's attempts to recreate in some human way, each of these God-given blessings.

Even so, whether or not we choose to get caught up in the whirlwind of "Christmas Tizz", isn’t all that important. When it comes right down to it, all that really matters is that we remember to keep "Christmas Tizz" in its place – as a tinselly bright backdrop for what Christmas truly IS.
Debbie Porter has encouraged, inspired and entertained thousands of men and women around the world through her writing since June, 2000. Her greatest desire is to encourage and build up the people of God to believe in their God given potential and to step into everything they were created to be. Deb lives with her husband and two teenagers in Sydney, Australia. You can contact Debbie through the "Your Letters" page of FaithWriters’ Magazine, or by visiting her website at http://www.breathfreshair.org