I have a great list of things that make me smile every time I think of them. My kids of course, my wife, some friends. There is also a list of things that I have heard or seen that can turn that frown upside down. The list can be added to at any moment, take the comment I heard recently that has me smiling as I write it here. Hassle Holiday.
Now let me set up the scene for you. I am in the office of a dear friend. She is an amazing mom, wife youth leader at our church. She is also a very well-respected attorney and travels the world solving legal problems for people. It is just before Halloween, we are sitting in her office preparing for a very important meeting. I asked what her family would be doing for Halloween. That was when I heard the term "Hassle Holiday" for the very first time.
"That is a Hassle Holiday and we don't mess with all that trick or treat, candy, costume stuff. We have a family movie night and dinner out," she said in an almost passing manner. The term took a second to sink in, but then it was like the switch was flipped for me. "What do you mean?" I asked. "Yes there are certain holidays that are just a lot of hassle and I don't know that we want to celebrate them. We don't care if others do, but we just have a family tradition of going out to eat and a movie."
I was laughing. I loved it. I love that she was so matter-of-fact about it. That it was a term I had never heard and it was part of her family dialect. I asked her what other holidays are considered Hassle Holidays. "Valentine's Day," she said with her classic smile. "What, you are kidding me," I exclaimed.
"No really. It is just another day and it should be practiced all year not just one day." OK, so I have heard this from a guy once and when he executed the nothing mode on Valentine's Day it did not go well for him at home. I'm not sure how her husband deals with this, but I am sure it is a fine line. It has to be.
So I got to thinking about other possible Hassle Holidays and none come up as more of a hassle than Christmas.
I won't waste the ink here talking about the commercialization of Christmas and how many claim it ruined the most important day of the year. Those same folks also claim it is the reason for the polar ice caps melting and the decline of the banana industry in Florida. Horrible.
But Christmas is the one holiday that penetrates all of society and creates waves of emotions that are almost unlimited. Shopping, decorating, travel, cards, work deadlines, guests in our home. Each of these can be wearing on our physical and emotional limits. Highs and lows. Hassles and joy.
The Spirit of Christmas came from a pretty hassle-free event that created a simplistic opportunity for folks around the world to experience joy. A baby born in the meekest, low-tech, inexpensive birthing center around, a stable. The birth of that child, now thousands of years later, gave us a story, a guide, a life to look at and know that through all the hassles and headaches of today, there is hope. Knowing Christ, Jesus, the baby born that day does not remove the hassles, it just puts them on the back burner.
They never again have to be the objective of the day.
This Christmas I am going to, again, try to be happy and do more for others. I am going to get out of myself and look to bless as many folks as I can. I am going to try to not complain about the decorations when my wife asks for my help and not be waiting with a cardboard box in my hand the day after Christmas to get this hassle of a holiday put up and behind us.
Each year as I get older the pages on the calendar go by faster. In my heart I so want to do life well. I don't want to let the hassles of life get in way of loving my family well. I want to listen better and not consider conversations I don't instigate as a hassle. I so desperately want to reach out to others and not consider unplanned encounters a hassle. I want to celebrate life, the gift of each moment, hassle-free with the knowledge that I am loved by a heavenly Father. That my family and friends know I love them dearly. That I am not a hassle for them but a blessing.
If this is the time of year you experience joy, soak it in. If this is a time of pain for you, look to a relationship with our Heavenly Father. Getting to know Him, becoming a part of His family is truly hassle-free, He designed it that way on purpose. Romans 10:9, Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
A very hassle-free Merry Christmas y'all. God Bless.