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Good Tidings of Great Joy

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December 19, 2011 by Alison Grisham

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I’ve been back to work at the furniture store for about a month now. Nearly four months after being laid off, it was a welcome relief to get the call asking me to return. But even after putting a few paychecks in my pocket, I’m still feeling the pinch as Christmas approaches.

Like a lot of people, especially in this economy, I find myself fretting about the things I can’t afford to do this holiday season. From gifts to food to decorations, I’ve been worried about falling short of the mark. It’s ironic, isn’t it? After all, Christmas is the one holiday that calls on us not to worry.

I’m not one for Bible verses, but I’m pretty sure it was Luke who said, “fear not… I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

I’ve been thinking about Luke’s message — not to fear, not to worry — and to be honest, I started thinking that Luke might not be the best person to go to for modern-day advice on Christmas anxiety.

But last week, two women walked into the furniture store and got me thinking in a different direction. They came with a long list of items they needed: armoire, couch, rug, bookcase, end table, etc. But they didn’t seem to be shopping for themselves. They were trying to match the colors in a pillowcase, and were talking about measurements.

It turned out that the two women were part of a four-sister team that redecorates homes for people in need. It all happens by word of mouth. One hears of a story and passes it along to the others, and before you know it, they are changing someone’s life. This week, it happens to be a 78-year old woman from Fayetteville, who has spent her life doing for others. Unfortunately, she has never had much time or money to do for herself, which has left her sleeping on an old couch, with the walls crumbling down around her. This week, all of that is going to change. The four sisters will spackle, clean, paint, sew, organize and redecorate an entire home for a woman who has been living alone in her own quiet poverty.

At their expense, the sisters have arranged for the woman to be out of her house for a week, and during that time, they will transform everything — sort of like a mini version of Extreme Home Makeover.

For my part, I merely helped reduce the cost of the furniture a little. But the story gave me the courage not to worry so much about Christmas anymore. It helped me remember the times that I’ve been able to help people in my life and the times that I’ve been helped by others, and it reminded me that worrying and fretting never helped anyone at all.

​My kids may not open a mountain of gifts this year, but they will decorate homemade Christmas cookies. They’ll watch their favorite holiday movies and listen to Christmas stories as they fall asleep. We’ll sing Christmas carols together and play board games by the fire. We may even roast a marshmallow or two. And I know my children well enough to realize that they will be grateful for whatever they have on Christmas morning, because they’ve been lucky enough to be loved every other day of the year.

Maybe I didn’t give Luke enough of chance, because even in today’s world — maybe especially in today’s world — Luke’s message is the most honest one there is about Christmas. It isn’t about the things we can’t give or don’t have, it’s about the peace we make within ourselves… and in turn, spread to those around us. It’s the good tidings, the good will and most of all the peace.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. — Luke 2:14

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