Well HELLO there… and Happy December!! The turkey’s been devoured, the tree’s been put up (unless you’re me), and now we can all just relax, curl up by the fire with a good book, and wait for the snow to fall… right?! Ha! We all WISH the holiday season was that easy! There’s gifts to buy, presents to wrap, dinners to plan, events to attend, and if you just so happen to be a lucky college student, FINALS to study for! My friends and I joke pretty often about how college has managed to just about kill the Christmas season for us… or at least it really feels like it sometimes. My freshman year, I had my scariest final exam for my 6 credit Arabic course on December 19th. Not only is that Justin’s birthday, but it’s also just SIX days before Christmas. I moved back home to discover that my family hadn’t even set up the tree!! We enjoyed looking at a Christmas tree in our living room for approximately a week and a half that year. I’m not blaming it on Mason’s late finals schedule, but… it probably was because of Mason’s late finals schedule.

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Thankfully, I’ve since moved back home and I’m able to be around to make sure our house is seasonally appropriate as soon as December 1st rolls around! (Just kidding, not a single stocking has been hung by the fireplace with care just yet. This weekend!!) It’s so easy to get bogged down by final exams and papers and projects and rushing here and there to make sure I buy the PERFECT gifts this year for everyone I know that I often forget what this time of year is really about… Jesus. You know that tale as old as time about the baby lying in a manger, surrounded by shepards and wise men, his virgin mother, and carpenter father, with a perfectly-placed-just-so beam of light coming from the roof of the stable. It’s so easy to forget just how important this scene we have engrained into our minds year after year really is. God loved us SO much that he sent His perfect, blameless son away from his throne in heaven and down to the comparably ugly, dirty, gross, chaotic, messed up world we call Earth. And He sent Him to DIE a horribly brutal death for us. Not so red & green, mistletoe Christmas-y story anymore. But it’s the truth, and it’s something I personally commemorate every year with a tradition of watching The Nativity Story (awesome recreation of the story of Jesus’ birth released just a few years ago!) every Christmas Eve. It’s something I look forward to every year even though it always makes me cry when He’s finally born and everything in that particular scene just looks so… peaceful. It’s the ultimate showing and outpouring of God’s love for us, wrapped up in a baby laying on a pile of hay. Now that’s a Christmas-y sight to see!!

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So, whether you’re a mom or dad scrambling to get the gifts your kids want to find under the tree this year or a college student like me just hoping to pass all of your classes for Christmas, when you start to get stressed… just close your eyes and picture that scene. Envision that pivotal moment in history where nothing would ever be the same and your life, before it even began, would forever be changed. It always helps me refocus on what really counts in these coming weeks: being kind, selfless, and giving of ourselves, our time, and our resources to make other people smile by showing them love, just like God showed His love to us some 2,000 years ago. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and I promise I’m set to blog that post about my exciting switch from Nikon to Canon & the first images with my new camera soon! Blame it on finals… ;)

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