This Christmas

Lately I’ve been feeling like Christmas came at a bad time this year. Which is goofy, because it always comes the same time each year, but it’s coming smack in the middle of what has been the most challenging season I have ever faced…and I don’t feel ready. Or Christmas-y. I feel exhausted. And I feel bummed.


I watch everyone’s “going to cut down a Christmas tree” posts on Instagram, photos from holiday parties and tree decorating (especially with little kids) that are filling my Facebook news feed…I look at the decorations at the grocery store, our neighbor’s outdoor Christmas lights, even the obnoxiously large blow-up snow globe down the street…and I just feel bummed. 

You know what we have? Nada. No Christmas tree, no outdoor lights, no indoor lights, no Christmas scented candles. Nothing. Zilch. Well, I did find the felt Christmas tree that I made for Oliver last year and tacked that on the wall so that he can put up and take off felt decorations and throw them all over the house with the rest of the legos and trucks…and Sam swapped out the fall wreath on our front door for the Christmas one. Festive, I know.

Boo.

Why the lack of Christmas-spirit around here? Exhaustion. And no extra time. I’m still adjusting to having two kiddos at home now, and on top of that Sam is taking two graduate classes this semester (4 nights a week). So, it means all the errand running and bedtimes and mealtimes and poopy diapers and everything in between without Sam being able to help as much as usual. And, on top of that, we’ve been dealing with a fleas in the house for weeks months? I don’t even know. It feels like forever. And it seems like someone is always sick. Cold-sick, vomiting-sick. You name it. And Oliver is getting his 2-year molars in. And…And…And…

And, I just can’t do ONE. MORE. THING. I have served peanut butter and jelly for dinner. Eggo waffles, from a box. Cheese and crackers and carrot sticks. No, we’re not starving over here (don’t want to worry any of the grandmas :)), but the point is, I’m spent. Totally and utterly spent. I can’t focus my attention or my time on anything else. I feel like most days I’m just barely getting by as it is.

So, the year when Oliver is SO enamored with all things Christmas…we have none of it. And I have been so incredibly bummed. I’m bummed for him, and I’m bummed for me. I’m not ready for Christmas. It’s not fair that it’s going to come and go and I can’t prepare for it. I can’t make a beautiful, decorated, pine-scented, Christmas-filled home. Our house smells like disinfectant. And Vicks. And vacuum bags. The only lights twinkling at night are in flea traps. I can’t take wonderful Christmas pictures of our kids in front of a beautifully decorated tree, because there IS no tree. I’m not thinking about cookies and stockings (which I haven’t even made, by the way….the materials are sitting in a bag, untouched), I’m thinking about tylenol dosage and the next load of laundry and has my kid even bathed this week?

I burst into tears the other day when Oliver shrieked with delight at the Christmas tree in the grocery store. Kroger has more Christmas than we do.

And I feel cheated.

Felt cheated.

But…

I’ve started reading the Christmas story with Oliver in his Bible (or as he now calls it “the Bib-o Jesus”), and the first couple chapters of Luke in my devotions, I figured that if there’s no Christmas-y feeling in the house at least I can read about it! And, for a story that I’ve read and heard and studied a million times over again, I feel absolutely BLOWN AWAY.

And I feel SO convicted. So what if I don’t have the twinkling lights and the mistletoe and the red and green frosted cut-out cookies! I’m sure they didn’t have a Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, donned with special ornaments and a fancy skirt on the night our Savior was born. I bet it didn’t smell like pine and gingerbread and wassail. Heck, he was born in a stable, so maybe there were even fleas! (Perhaps I’m in good company this Christmas after all – ha!) No one was out in the kitchen decorating cookies shaped like angels and stars and candy canes.

Oh, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t about what was there, but who He was – who he IS. The Son of God. Sent for us. For you and for me.

God did not prepare Him a house, or a palace, or any of the “things” we’d think a King would deserve. No, God’s preparations were in the hearts and lives of people. Zechariah who had an angelic visitor with an incredible announcement – Elizabeth who was given a baby in her old age, a son who would “go before him <span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AL)”>in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Mary who was favored by God and chosen to bear his son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph who was told in a dream that this was God’s plan – and chose to honor God’s will and take Mary, pregnant with a babe he did not put there, as his wife. A census. A trip. And a multitude of Angels bursting with excitement who sent some shepherds hurrying to see the babe for themselves.

God prepared the hearts of people, people who loved and served him, to make a way for His Son. And when He arrived, He who would take on Himself the sins of ALL mankind…what he had were a few clean cloths and a manger to sleep in. 


A MANGER. And I’m moping about not having a tree. 


Oh how I have missed it these last few weeks. 


It’s not at all about Oliver’s shrieking over the “ed” and “bue” and “geen” lights or the “Cri-mas tree…” (though I’m still thankful we’ll spend time with family who WILL have such things, because it’s fun!) It’s about the curious look on his face as he studies the picture of the “beeba Jesus” in his Bible, telling me that Jesus is sleeping with his “eyes cwosed, mommy, shhh!” It’s about the prayer that I whisper even as I read the words on the pages: Oh, Jesus…May he know you from an early age. May he begin to understand even now. Capture my little boy’s heart. 


It’s not about the decorations or the stockings or the cinnamon candles, or the absence thereof. It’s about a Savior. My Savior. Who came for me. Who wants my heart, not my cookies. It’s about remembering what He’s done, and sharing that – sharing HIM – with my family. My beautiful, beautiful family.


I don’t need a house prepared, I need a heart prepared. I can choose to be bummed by the lack of Christmas-y things…or I can step back – in the midst of this simple, un-adorned Christmas season for our family – and choose to set my eyes on Jesus. Choose to set aside my laundry and tell the story again to Oliver, even though we’ve read it four times already today. Choose to be thankful, to remember, and to be in awe again over the wonderful, perfect plan of a God who loves us so much that he would send His Son to die for us. Choose to show my kids the WHO of Christmas, rather than the what. And in years to come when we can have a tree and all the trimmings…know how to appreciate them without losing sight of the true promise and beauty of the Christmas season:


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ, the LORD.

Luke 2:11
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