It happens every year. The children say "Is it here yet??" The exhausted moms ask, "Is it over yet??"
Shopping and decorating and Christmas cards and baking and cleaning and cooking and entertaining and more cleaning. As Thanksgiving approached I promised myself I'll do better this year. I'll buy less, I'll do less, I'll start early. By mid-December I walked into work and declared, "I hate Christmas!" to whoever was listening. On December 23 I was mailing Christmas cards. Before 8 am on December 24, I was in ShopRite at the fish department, sneaking in one last purchase on my way to work. So much for good intentions!
Who says this is the most wonderful time of the year?
And yet, in the end, it is. The miracle of the Prince of Peace. The whole month included sweet memories of family and faith.
Like my grandson, putting our plastic manger people in place, all appropriately facing baby Jesus, while singing "Salvation is here! Salvation is here and He lives in me..." Of course the best part was as he was singing, he was shooting at the plastic sheep with his elastic band gun. Don't you just love boys?
Then there was decorating the Christmas tree with my daughter Debbie, giggling as we struggled to get the lights around the back of the tree. And my daughter Christina going to IKEA to buy herself a desk with the Christmas/birthday money we gave her, only to come home instead with a new bed for her son. What an unexpected treat it was to be able to attend the church service on Christmas eve and still have time to cook the special fish and pasta dinner for our family. How I thrilled today to see the delight on my mom's face to receive the simple presents I gave her. How sweet it was to watch my mother-in-law enjoying the lasagna I made for the family--her recipe that she can no longer make because of her dementia. What a joy to see the pleasure of my grandson over the Pokemon cards I found at the dollar store. In the midst of the sea of crumbled Christmas wrapping paper in my living room, the dark cloud lifted and I saw truth.
Yes, there was a lot of work. Yes, it was a lot of stress. It was not one day. It was a month of extra effort. But there was blessings in the family time because we had to do things together. It was a time of building memories and opportunities to share faith.
And isn't true that anything worthwhile involves work and sacrifice?
Father, forgive me. I focused on all the wrong things. Christmas is about the cousins having time together, thinking about blessing family with special gifts, remembering old friends with cards and notes and photos. All these things to squeezed into one month and it takes extra time. It never needed to be post card perfect. Your birth was certainly not about perfection. It was all about entering our mess at the lowest point, embracing our misery to help us understand Your love and Your desire to save us. Christmas is about sacrifice, and I have not been willing.
It is not about creating the perfect holiday, it is about embracing the truth of the mess we live in, finding Jesus in each face, and making the sacrifice of love required to be a blessing to them, in His name.
Thank You for changing my heart and helping me see Your beauty in it all. Thank You for coming and changing everything.
And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)