When the tree is lit with a single strand of lights – despite that the ‘experts’ insist I need about 300 more bulbs – I am already too weary to bring the box of ornaments down from the attic.
Someone tell me again – why is it we do this? There isn’t going to be a single gift under this tree. Hasn’t been for nearly nine years – that’s the way of things here. So, why all this effort?
At least I wrap the ribbon. The same ribbon that has snuggled our tree the last six years. I love it for the golden stars, reminds me of the star-lit journey…
So when the sweet friend pops in unexpectedly and she’s holding stacks of wonderfully printed handwriting pages and crafts for my kids to do and these paper strips with the Names of God… I know.
She goes on about how she doesn’t know why she’s standing here, with the extra things she’s printed – how odd it would be that she felt the urge to bring them to me. But I know.
So the shiny balls and sparkly stars stay in the attic this year. And what was meant for an advent paper chain to count down the days – it’s counting up instead. All around our tree. All the things God IS.
I punch holes in those strips like there were holes punched in Him and we hang the Names of God on the tree just like God hung on the tree – because Christmas is only really celebrated because after he laid on the wood of the trough — then He laid on the wood of a tree… There is only reason to celebrate His birth because of His death.
So we string up those attributes – the only ornaments on our tree. And we see it every day as we sit at the table and break bread.
And sometimes we drink hot cocoa to soothe away the disappointment of not going to see Papa on his birthday – because the weather was too fierce.
That chocolate has a way of curling up the sad lips.
And we lay out the Advent book on the table and read it at night. And the tree-lights reflect in all the little wide eyes as the story unfolds each night.
And sometimes we double-up to make up for the night we missed when the day was too long and weary. But I guess if anyone understands about a day being long and weary, it’s the One who knows about holes and trees.
And some days there’s nothing ‘holly jolly’ about the mess in this place. The mess you can see, and the mess stuffed up in prideful hearts. And some days the schooling only consists of reading aloud to listening ears…
And learning to enjoy new skills while your hands are busy making something for another.
And no, the stockings aren’t actually hung yet, but they’ll be ready… and no, there hasn’t been a gingerbread house, but there is a little manger in the nativity….
The one with only two wise men, because little hands dropped and shattered the third. I suppose even wise men don’t live forever.
At least Joseph only has a hand broken off…. or is that a shepherd.
The Broken Shepherd.
And on a quiet night I sit by twinkling white lights and hear snoring from the other room… and try to ignore the pile of laundry sitting beside me. Because it isn’t about a perfect Christmas.
Thank God it’s about how He chose to come in to the mess of this life and on a quiet night like this the first announcement was made to a most unlikely audience – Good tidings of great JOY – here in the midst of the ugly imperfection – the Savior has come.
God. With us.