Jesus, help me remember Christmas isn’t all about presents and decorations; it’s about people — and it’s your birthday! Amen.

John the Baptist was in the desert when he heard Jesus was going to start teaching people about God. Right away, John went all over the country, saying, “Get ready for Jesus! Fill up the valleys and cut down the mountains, and make a straight road for Him to travel!”

Why are so many families buying more Christmas decorations this month? You probably have ornaments, lights and tinsel already. The same goes for some presents: Do you really need to ask Santa for more stuffed animals? You probably have a bunch already.

People get enthusiastic and buy things they may not need because Christmas is exciting. It’s all about newness: celebrating the birth of Jesus, whose life would change the world, and looking forward to a new year. A lot of people want to fix up their homes to show their excitement.

In this week’s Gospel (Luke 3:1-6), John the Baptist is excited, too. He is Jesus’ cousin, and he’s just heard that Jesus is about to start His work on Earth: teaching people and helping them get closer to God.

John becomes like a family before Christmas, running around trying to get everything ready. He’s so enthusiastic that he even travels around to alert people about Jesus.

John’s excitement shows in his words about filling up valleys and cutting down mountains. John really means people should get rid of anything that’s in the way of Jesus’ coming. For example, being mean or selfish is not the attitude to have when it’s time to welcome Jesus!

It’s easy to get excited at Christmastime and focus on the wrong things, like newer Christmas lights or asking for more toys than you need. The Gospel story is a reminder of where to put your attention: on people, and especially on Jesus.

Christmas decorations and presents are great, and it’s fun to prepare. But John taught us that, while we think about ornaments and letters to Santa, we need to remember that Christmas is a day for celebrating the people we love, the people in need and Jesus. After all, Christmas is Jesus’ birthday!