Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Perfect Christmas?

The perfect Christmas.

I think we, women, put a lot a pressure on ourselves to achieve that for our families every year.  I mean, let's face it....we do carry most of the burden of the Christmas bustle and preparation.  Not knocking you, men, and I know there are exceptions, but Christmas is usually our domain.  Of course, Davis works to finance Christmas and, yes, he climbs up the attic stairs and gets all of the boxes down when it's time to decorate.  Oh, and he does cut a couple of inches off of our Christmas tree trunk and secures it in the tree stand.  But, let's talk straight here.......past that the ball's in my court.  A majority of the things that the kids open on Christmas morning, well, he'll be just as surprised as they are by them.

Now, I'm not complaining.  I wouldn't have it any other way even though it does become a draining task to buy all the gifts for both sides of the family, wrap them, decorate the house, send the Christmas cards, shop for food, cook, plan meals, coordinate visits, figure out family holiday schedules, and purchase things needed for all the parties everyone has to attend. 


Some years, everything falls into place and Christmas goes off without a hitch.  It's a beautiful experience.  Other times, it's just a bumpy ride all the way to the New Year.  Nothing seems to go right and you're just ready to pack up the decorations and move on. 

As moms and wives and aunts and grandmothers, we just want to make things nice for everyone at Christmas time.  We want to give our family the kind of Christmas we see in the Hallmark movies.  Everyone is happy and there are no complicated family dynamics with which we have to work around.  The tree is perfectly decorated and the lights are all working.  No one is under the weather.  Travel goes smoothly.  The food has never been better......just enough moistness and seasoning and browned to the peak of perfection.  The gifts are so perfectly suited for each recipient that there are shrieks of joy and tears of gratitude.  There is a nip in the air and a light snowfall lays a blanket of wintry beauty upon the landscape.  A fire is crackling in the fireplace.  Everyone is all warm and cozy in the embrace of kith and kin.  All are full of love for one another and sentimental emotion wells up from the depths of each heart.  Each Christmas dream comes true. 

As women, that's the gift we want to give our families every year. 

In reality, we may find things to be not quite so ideal.  Sometimes, the cornbread dressing is dry and the rolls are too brown on the bottom.  Sometimes, we realize, too late, that we should've doubled the sweet potato recipe.  Even the recipients of our gifts may want to know if we kept the receipt.  Sometimes, as it is for us this year, Christmas is forecasted to be 80 degrees and the sound of the air conditioner will take the place of a crackling fire.  Could be that half the family is sick with a terrible cold thing that's going around and it has them sounding like a bunch of barking seals.  Maybe there are some undercurrents of family strife that could make things a little awkward.  Could be that scheduling didn't come together this year and there will be some empty chairs at the table.  Sometimes, the middle string of tree lights go out and you can't find the problem bulb to save your life. 

And, no matter how smoothly we think Christmas goes, it's always a letdown to clean up all the ripped boxes and torn paper off the floor.  To wave at the family as they pull out of the driveway.  To pack it all up.....those decorations we were so excited about less than a month ago. 

All that time.  All that work.  All that excitement.  All that buildup.  All that preparation.  Over.  And, often times, the reality didn't quite live up to the weeks of picturesque visions we'd had leading up to the big day. 

I was thinking about the imperfections of Christmas both past and present and its failure to, sometimes, meet our expectations.  The first Christmas was anything but perfect.  My goodness.  Talk about a Christmas gone wrong, at least, from where we stand. 

Mary, God bless her, didn't plan on being a young, unmarried, pregnant virgin and experiencing the whispers and judgment that would've come along with that.  She wouldn't have imagined going on such a treacherous trip as pregnant as she was and her baby being born while she was far away from the help of her mother and the other women in her family.  She likely didn't expect there to be no place for them to stay when they got to Bethlehem.  She probably wouldn't have chosen a barn as the perfect setting to have her first child.  Joseph didn't prefer that Mary would mysteriously become pregnant and having to deal with the embarrassment and doubt that caused him.  They wouldn't have chosen to place their first baby in a feeding trough or have the stench of animals nearby.  Strangers from out in a field weren't who they'd imagined would be surrounding them after their child's birth.  And they wouldn't have expected to soon be on the run for their new son's safety.  From our human viewpoint, there was nothing that went right on that first Christmas.  Not a birth story that we'd ever want to experience.  Not the beginning we'd wish for any child in our family.   

But, maybe God wanted Christmas to be a little less than perfect.  Maybe He came in that way to show us that we can triumph in the imperfections of this life.  To give us hope in all of our Plan B's.  To demonstrate that good can come from flawed situations.  To remind us His plans are better than our plans.  To show us that sometimes greatness has unexpected or lowly beginnings.  To prove that life doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful or useful.  To display how He can work with less than ideal circumstances.  To reveal to us that His idea of perfection may not always be the same as ours.  

Maybe when Christmas doesn't go off without a hitch is when we're actually experiencing Christmas in its truest form.  Could be when we look around and it doesn't look like the pictures in the storybooks or the glittery front of a Christmas card is when we're closest to the spirit of that first Christmas. 

Maybe, we could dial back our pursuit of the perfect Christmas and take some of the pressure off of ourselves if we remember that the Son of God came into the world in what seemed to be the most imperfect way.  It was a day when nothing appeared to go right.  It was a day when expectations were not met.  And yet, it was an event that had been planned from the very beginning.  With all the time in the world to prepare.  With any and all resources at His disposal.  And that was the way He decided it should be.  A King carried in an unmarried mother's womb.  Birthed in a smelly stable. Surrounded by animals and strangers. 

To the human eye, it was all wrong.  But, to Him, it was perfect. 

It was a perfectly imperfect Christmas.

And so I hope that your family embraces the spirit of Jesus' birth. 

And I hope you and those you love enjoy a very Merry Christmas! 

Its warts and all. 

Talk to you before the New Year!     

To all a goodnight!           


1 comment:

  1. Joni, The perfectly imperfect Christmas is a reminder of what's truly important on Christmas day and everyday.
    Have a Blessed Christmas with your family and friends, Kathleen in Az