We see that when Clark Griswold bends over backwards to give his family an old fashioned Christmas, only to be stopped with obstacles at every turn. By the end of the movie though Clark realizes, while standing in the midst of his destroyed home and surrounded by police, that sometimes the most joy and sweetest memories are found when things go not quite the way we planned.
Think about your own memories of Christmas. Chances are the ones that stand out most to you are from Christmas' when things didn't go according to plan and it was that obstacle that made that year all the more memorable.
I know that's the case for me. One example that stands out is our tradition of every year going as a family to get the McNulty family Christmas tree. The year that stands out to me isn't the one where we drove out into the bush in a nice SUV that had four wheel drive and all the amenities. The year that I'll never forget is when we trekked into the bush with an old Ford sedan that needed the "check engine" light to go on in order to run in the right gear. Partway on the drive the heater kicked out, followed soon by the defroster. So not only did we have no heat, but we actually had to roll down the windows or we'd have too much frost and wouldn't be able to see outside the front windshield. We laughed more on that drive than we had on all others combined. And it was then that the message hit home that perfect circumstances don't make for better holidays, or better lives for that matter.
Chances are this Christmas that's going to be the case. Things aren't going to work out exactly like you or I had planned. But the beauty comes when we look past our ideals and instead embrace every moment that we're given, whether that moment is in front of the fireplace surrounded by loved ones or stranded on the side of the road alone, as a good gift from above.
After all if Christmas was about perfect human plans, Jesus would have been born in a palace, not a stable. Herod would have been none the wiser about His arrival, rather than angered by it. And as for Joseph and Mary? They would have returned home to a warm embrace by their family, rather than being forced to flee to another country with a newborn. The first Christmas was about God's plans, not ours. And this Christmas it's my prayer for myself and my prayer for all of you that it's about God's plans, not ours. God may bless you with the hallmark moment you envisioned or He might bless you with an the unexpected moment you'll be talking about for years to come. We can't know which is coming, but we can start our celebrations by surrendering our plans to Him and welcoming any "obstacle" with open arms and expectant hearts.