Today's post is part of a special series of Christmas articles. Each writer was given a photo and tasked with writing a spiritually minded article inspired by that image.
I've never made gingerbread cookies, but I do have this amazing copy of "The Gingerbread Man" in my collection of kids' picture books. (Yes, I actually do have said collection.)
I'm crazy about the illustrations in this particular book, but the story seems rather strange, don't you think? This old couple decides to bake a gingerbread boy. (Here they are giggling over the prospect.)
And then their miniature confection comes to life and runs away from them. See…
He then proceeds to meet a butcher, a sow, and a cow, all of whom he taunts by saying, "You can't catch me!" and for no apparent reason whatsoever (extreme cookie cravings?) they all run after him and try to do exactly what he says they can't.
Finally, the little rascal runs into a fox who outsmarts the conceited cookie into drawing near enough so he can grab him and gobble him down for an afternoon snack.
What can the moral of this story possibly be?
I do actually have my own theories — thank you, English Lit degree — but I want to veer in a different direction and connect this story to Christmas — and my photo of the sad little gingerbread man who is sitting atop a pile of his smiling peers.
In the story, the gingerbread man is insanely confident in his own ability to outrun everyone else. Do you agree that the Christmas season offers more than a few opportunities to "run around"? And I'm not just talking about running to the store for gifts and goodies. I'm also talking about those neck-and-neck races where we subconsciously compete … Whose Christmas cards are cutest? Who sings the better solo in choir? Who bakes the best gingerbread?
And we're confident that we can keep pace…wrap the gifts, frost the cookies, change the bed sheets, hang the garland…
Sadly, I myself can all too easily get tangled up in the "performance" of Christmas.
I run myself ragged, and, although I may dodge minor mishaps, I end up running straight into the clutches of the fox of all foxes — the assassin of good cheer, the smasher of Christmas spirit, the despoiler of holy nights.
Then I end up like the sad little cookie in my photo. Everyone around me at church is enjoying heavenly peace, and I'm swallowed up in the stinking stomach of stuff that doesn't really matter at all.
I don't want this to be a runaway Christmas. If I spend too much time on the wrong things, I may climb to the top of the cookie pile, but I won't be happy there.
I want to rejoice in the birth of my Savior! Instead of running to the mall, I want to run into His arms. Instead of diving into party planning, I want to dive into His word. Instead of pouring over Pinterest, I want to pour my heart out in prayer.
There is no better time than Christmas to sit still and strengthen my connection to Christ, and I know that's ultimately what will put a smile on my face.
Editor's Note: Post a comment telling us what puts a smile on your face at Christmastime.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.