She must have made plans. After all, she had nine months. She must have thought things through. Even the Bible says she pondered them in her heart. While most of us choose colors, themes and nursery furniture, I’m quite certain she never would have chosen ‘early mid-eastern stable’ for her nursery theme. She must have had some expectations. But I’m sure they were nothing like my expectations and disappointments of Christmas.
Every year, I build and rebuild Christmas… trying to find meaning in the preparations… significance in the celebration…traditions for my children… satisfaction in perfection. My friends will laughingly, lovingly tell you I am the furthest thing from a perfectionist. Forget about breaking New Year’s resolutions. I make and break Christmas resolutions every year:
1. I will buy tree lights, cards and ornaments right after Christmas on sale.
2. I will start my Christmas shopping in late August after the kids start school.
3. I will start my Christmas cards in September.
4. I will keep an organized, indestructible list of what and who I have bought for.
5. I will wrap all presents before Christmas Eve.
6. By next year I will have all the stories of our Advent Jesse Tree in order and memorized.
7. I will make it meaningful for all members of our family.
I admit… I never succeed. Why do I feel responsible for making Christmas meaningful for everyone when God has already done it? I think I am better at celebrating communion once a month than I am at Christmas, once a year. At least in communion, I am alone… communing with God. He knows my heart. He gets me. I confess, I grieve, I contemplate, I repent, I remember and give thanks. At Christmas, I am not alone. I am surrounded by chaos, commercial bells and whistles, lists of children’s expectations and the all encompassing, self-imposed role of ‘Maker of the Merry Christmas.’ Um… no offense, but I’m pretty sure that job was already taken by Jesus. And God only used one star to decorate the whole shebang.
Today, my heart stings in fresh disappointment. In the middle of yet another road trip hauling kids to their expected destinations, I returned a call to my favorite neighbor. I was so happy to hear her voice… an oasis. Then, suddenly, in one of those Twilight Zone moments, I realized… breathlessly… that I had missed our neighborhood Christmas party… last night… at her house. -- Oh. No. -- My mind raced. My heart thumped… in the rhythm of ruined expectations. My brain was jammed into “rewind” without first pressing “stop” … because why? I was out over spending. Distracted because I had left everything to the last minute. And in the middle of Kohls of all places, I was called to a last minute music rehearsal for the Christmas Eve service… to which I rushed unprepared. My mind was like a chain link fence of excuses rattling in my brain. The tears came.
Bah. Don’t be too impressed by my monarch Advent preparations. Apparently, while there are beautiful and great truths I have found in raising monarchs, the sad truth is I am still not prepared to truly celebrate Christmas. If I could spin my own cocoon right now, I would. I would like to crawl inside and weep over ruined expectations and hurting my neighbor’s feelings. For now, my covers will have to do. If Mary knew me, she would have expected that I would need her son to save me… from myself.
Come Thou long expected Jesus.
joining with Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus