Every year I say, “Next Christmas I will _____ (fill in the blank).”
bake the homemade cookies my mom made.
decorate my mantle.
stick to my gift budget.
sew some frill on our Christmas stockings.
fix all of the ornaments in “broken bag.”
Well it is next Christmas and the cookies aren’t homemade, the cards aren’t sent, and we’ve got the bare minimum of decorations up just in time.
I’m beginning to realize that having a medically complex kiddo is only going to cause this list to grow longer over the years. Because ER visits, therapy appointments, and last-minute doctor runs always trump anything else going on around here. Even Christmas.
My dream of having a perfectly prepared Christmas may not be what God has in mind for our how we celebrate anyway.
Since when is Christmas about perfectly performing traditions?
The very first Christmas definitely didn’t go that well. A baby king was born in a stable. As in a barn. For animals. His mother Mary was pregnant before she was married. Pregnant by the Holy Spirit, which I’m thinking is pretty hard to explain to your family and friends. And a jealous king was out for that innocent newborn baby. It certainly wasn’t how the Jews imagined their coming king.
This year it occurred to me that it’s strange I even come up with all sorts of romantic ideas of how things should be. The very essence of the Christmas story is how things were unexpected and messy and not at all fit for a king.
So the question for me has changed from how can I create the perfect Christmas experience for my kids into how can I accept the essence of Christmas in my heart? How can I embrace the unexpected and imperfect? How can I prepare my heart for Jesus coming in whatever way that looks this year?
As I was walking the aisles of Target late Tuesday night pondering these questions, I came across these tubes of cookie dough and this frosting. I almost walked right past them promising myself that I would make mine the real way.
Something inside stopped me said, “Just buy them and have some fun.” So I did. Because it was way more fun to take the short cut of pre-made dough rather than stressing myself out. I let the big kid go crazy with frosting and sprinkles and the mess rather than not do them at all. Too often I am either overwhelmed, overworked, and waiting for the Norman Rockwell moment to appear.
Yesterday we had so much fun rolling, cutting, frosting, and sprinkling. And we even ate some of that non-homemade stuff too because well, it’s Christmas.
With less than a week to go we are beginning to live expectantly for Christ’s coming. (And a certain little person is living expectantly for Santa’s coming!) This Christmas is morphing and reshaping itself in spite of my expectations, but this time I’m enjoying the imperfect a little better.
Nathan whined through the whole decorating process but I did offer him a plastic cookie cutter to play with which appeased him for a little bit.
The ornaments in the broken bag aren’t going to get fixed this year. In fact, we’ll probably add some. But at least we did something festive to embrace the season instead of waiting for it to all be perfect. Instead of saying, “Next Christmas I will (fill in the blank).” I’m saying, “This Christmas I will.” I will do whatever unexpected thing comes my way to help us celebrate the coming king, homemade cookies or not.
And just to prove that it didn’t go perfectly I will openly admit that my five-year-old had a major sugar crash resulting in sprinkles everywhere and a full on melt-down. I didn’t get that on camera, but trust me it happened.
O come, O come, Emmanuel And ransom captive Israel That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.”
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