Tis’ the season for twinkling lights, sparkling tress and the annual Christmas card. It brings me joy to see children growing and the families that have my heart doing well.
I’m going to be honest and say that while I love the cards that grace my mail box, I dread the process of creating my own card. There’s just so much pressure.
There is pressure to have matching outfits and a professional photo shoot draped in the perfect sunlight.
There is pressure to capture genuine grins of joy that radiate love and affection.
There is pressure to find the perfect card design that’s printed on the thickest card stock.
Friends, that’s WAY too much pressure in this sacred season! May I dare call it insanity?
But like everyone, I try to put my best foot forward and embrace the tradition of the Christmas card. We try to be that family. Dressed in our Sunday best, we pray that one picture will give the illusion that we have it all together.
Except that’s not real life.
Our reality is filled with child crying, tantrums, and more tense moments than I care to admit. We’re not always the loving and kind family our Christmas card portrays. But then again, is anyone’s life really Christmas card perfect?
Can we be just be honest?
If we’re all honest, behind those plastered smiles are hurts, troubles, and real-life problems. If Christmas cards and letters were truly realistic, they would share the real stories of the lives represented on the cards.
Instead of perfection, friends would see the deep hurts and needs of the grinning family. With that openness, friends could rush to the aid of the family in need.
The blessing of vulnerability
What freedom to let down our guard, share our struggles and tell the real stories of the past year. We would not feel the need to hide behind halfhearted sentiments and merry wishes in the Christmas letter that only mentions the highlights.
Friends would see the tears and be able to lend a helping hand. Instead of posed looks of joy, we would know the relationship strains and the tensions in the family. A caring community would be ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus while offering encouragement and pointing to truth.
Friends would see a need and take action to help.
Food could be provided when it is scarce.
Financial assistance offered when times are lean.
Counsel provided for the couple on the brink of divorce.
It’s time to take off the masks
If Christmas cards were realistic, we could take off our masks and be free to be whom God made us to be without the expectations of perfection and without fear of judgement. As a result, our hearts would be freer and our burdens a bit lighter. Imagine the beauty of authentic relationships where you could share both the sorrows and the joys.
While the concept of realistic Christmas cards will probably never catch on, imagine the beautiful relationships we could build if everyone was honest and vulnerable.
As for me, I’m going to embrace our imperfections and let our blooper picture make the final cut for our card. Our friends and family will know that while we aren’t perfect, we aren’t afraid to share reality, even when it’s not picture perfect.
As you get ready to make your own cards, remember they don’t have to feign perfection. Don’t be afraid to let your real circumstances show in your Christmas letter and if you decide you want to add the bloopers to your final card, I’m pretty sure I’d have a new best friend!