Commentary: Focus on Jesus to reduce Christmas challenges


Christmas is a joyful season but always has some challenges.

The place of Christmas is often a question. Mary and Joseph ended up in Bethlehem when Jesus was born. They had gone there to pay taxes. Paying taxes is never fun but something we have to do. The place they ended up when Jesus was born was probably not their desired location to bear their first child but they made the most of the location. 

Location trips a lot of people up on Christmas. Many have no choice. They will spend Christmas in the nursing home or jail. Many have no options. They may be too elderly or sick to travel. They may not have any place to go.  If you have options, then be thankful. If you have a place to spend Christmas, then this is one of your best gifts of all. Don’t fight about the place where you will spend Christmas. Make the best of wherever you end up and celebrate with whoever is around. 

The presents of Christmas are often stressful. Presents are expensive and often we don’t know what to buy and how much to spend. You may have a lot of gifts to buy or maybe you don’t have a single person for whom you will buy a gift. If you can afford to buy gifts, and want to, then enjoy the opportunity. If finances are meager this year, then be honest with yourself and others and say our list and budget is very limited this year. Don’t put yourself in financial jeopardy by spending money you don’t have. The greatest gift is the baby Jesus. Focusing on Him will bring more peace than a house filled with gifts. 

The pageantry of Christmas often becomes work. How many lights can you string on your roof or around your shrubbery? I enjoy putting up lights on a warm day but despise taking them down in January. Just remember what goes up must come down, eventually. Try to find a mild weather day and you won’t feel like the Grinch. 

The pressure of Christmas gets to a lot of people. People die in December. Loneliness takes over, Stress becomes paramount.  People get depressed. Christmas should never be a time of loneliness, stress or pressure but it was a difficult time for Mary and Joseph. They were poor people. Bringing a child into the world in a stable would not be considered an option for most of us. Traveling was a hassle and very difficult back then. While they were overjoyed with the baby Jesus, life’s circumstances were not easy. Later, they would flee to Egypt for the safety of their family which had to their pressure. 

The person of Christmas must be our focus in order to truly celebrate this season. Let’s not lose sight of the main character in the Christmas story. If we do, then we will focus on the place, presents, pageantry and pressures of Christmas.  Thus, we will miss out on the real joy that the heavenly host proclaimed to those shepherds watching their sheep. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” (Luke 2:14).


Glenn Mollette is a retired pastor, newspaper columnist and the author of 11 books. Reach him at