LET THE MADNESS BEGIN                                                                                                      Andy Hollifield 11-24-18

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I survived Black Friday! There were only two people ahead of me at the only store I went to at around 5:30, PM. Dollar General Market was doing their usual good business and no one pushing, shoving, or getting in fights for that last “whatever” on the shelf. It wasn’t crowded anywhere I went and no one was waiting to slide into my parking place when I got out of it. I pretty much stayed in my recliner until Friday afternoon and no one was blowing a horn trying to make me move. I try to keep stress to a minimum and my only Thanksgiving hangover is that I try to remember on Friday all the things I was thankful for on Thursday. God has been so good to me that it will take an eternity for me to thank him. I can’t even get started good in just one day.

Now officially; ’tis the season. The season where a lot of folks spend the next 30 days behaving in ways that their momma would be ashamed of. That may not be true everywhere or with everyone, but in the south, we were taught to mind our manners regardless of where we were or who we were around. For all of you that were raised that way; get ready to encounter those who weren’t. They will be rushing you from your parking spot so they don’t have to get one three spaces down and walk that extra 30 feet. You know the ones. Those who try to get their luxury SUV in that spot that a Ford Fiesta couldn’t fit in, all while talking on the phone and giving you the finger because you are sitting there watching them, laughing, and shaking your head. Then you get to see the side-show of them throwing an old fashion conniption fit because now they can’t get their door open to get out. Maybe they should have paid attention to that instead of talking on the phone and flipping you off.

Yep, it is that time of year to watch folks stress themselves into a heart attack and then talk on December 26th about how much they hate the hustle and bustle of Christmas and they are glad it’s over. They go through the whole Christmas season without ever stopping to think about the greatest gift ever given and the reason for the season. I have to tell you that I am still like a little kid at Christmas. My joy now though is trying to find the perfect gift for each person that will actually mean something to them this time next year. For example the time when my wife laughed at me because I got my mom a cordless screwdriver. I got the last laugh when she saw how much my do-it-yourself mom loved it. There was also the time we gave her dad an old picture frame that had about one and a half inches of space between the back and the front glass. We got a piece of mat-board with eight oval holes and put pictures we had taken of all the North Carolina lighthouses in it. We also included a few seashells we had found when we were at the Outer Banks a few months earlier. Then there was the time when I carved out an image of a van on a piece of wood with my router and also carved out the date dad started his courier business and the name of it. Just little things like those that many might say don’t make much of a gift. Well, they may not but they make for some good memories.

And more important than any of those things is the main thing. The fact that we are fixing to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ in that stable in Bethlehem all those years ago. The child of the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost on a little espoused Jewish virgin. Unnoticed by the world around him, but announced by a host of angels to the lowest of the low, a group of shepherds. The ones chosen by God to herald the birth of Heaven’s lamb into this sinful world. He would be the sacrifice for the very people who over three decades later would mock, ridicule, and ultimately crucify him. Rather than get rid of him, they opened up the bridge by which man could be forgiven and reconciled back to God.

So as you sit waiting for that parking space that someone who is totally oblivious to you is taking forever to get out of; just chill out. In the over all scheme of life, it’s not that big of a deal. Remember why you are there to start with. You are there to buy a gift for someone that God has put into your life that means something special to you. You are there as part of the celebration of the day that God put his Son, that means everything to you, into your life. Keep in perspective who this whole thirty-day ritual was intended to honor. More importantly, keep the Christmas attitude of peace on earth and good will toward men all year (Luke 2:14). Don’t forget to honor God for the greatest gift ever given and just let the madness begin.  Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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