Tag Archives: Christmas

How to Have an Imperfect Christmastime

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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.

Tabitha’s Travels

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.

Learning is Looming

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.

It’s Not Too Late for Advent

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Here we are the first night of advent, and instead of lighting our candle tonight, and reading our story or making an ornament for the tree – instead we shuffle through sawdust on the kitchen floor. We skirt around power tools and try to keep the baby from eating wood chips.  We eat our meals picnic style on the floor and around the coffee table and piano bench.  And where there would be standing a Christmas tree – where there would be the soft glow of Christmas lights if we were that family who had it all together – there are stacks of homeschooling books and craft supplies that lost their home and got shuffled around when the re-arranging of the dining room and the building of our big farmhouse table began.

It’s day 2 of December.  First day of Advent.  And it ain’t pretty around here.

{ ‘Ain’t’ is what I say when I really want to emphasize something.  Because, being the grammar nazi that I am, I still believe it ain’t a real word.}

No, once again, this is not what I had envisioned.  But it rarely is.

That’s how life looks when you’re just a broken family in need of grace, just striving to put on the Armor every day and put one foot in front of the other.

And not trip because you’re a boy (or girl) wearing King-sized armor.

But I’ve learned that just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you ‘scrap’ it.

Our beautiful table finally finished, we’ll just begin our Advent tomorrow.  Maybe the tree will be up. Maybe it won’t.  Maybe the greenery and the wreath will be assembled.  Maybe it won’t.  Maybe there will be the soft glow of Christmas lights…. or not.

More than likely I’ll have a half-painted dining room wall, and the school books and craft supplies  will still be a cluttered mess, but we’ll celebrate Advent anyway.

We’ll celebrate His coming.

No, it won’t be perfect.  But come to think of it, that’s kind of how the birth of Christ was anyway.

Everything about the story of Christ’s entry into our earthly world was pretty much the opposite of perfect.  Instead it was unexpected.  Messy.  Scandalous, even. Ridiculous, if you want to get right down to it.

I mean really – the Word – the Creator lowering Himself to wear our skin and walk our dirt?

I guess if the Creator of the universe – the King of Kings – can be born to an unmarried young mother in quiet anonymity amongst some hay and animals – well then, I guess He doesn’t mind us celebrating His Coming in the imperfection of half-hung lights and a saw-dusty floor.

Because what matters is that we do celebrate.  We do remember. We do something.

Even if that something is just “Be still and know that I am God.”

Even if you’ve never celebrated Advent before – it’s not too late for you either.  It’s not too late to teach your family to celebrate His coming!  This – this is what we’re celebrating this season!

Joy to the World, the Lord is come!  

I heard someone today say that we as Christians have the most reason to sing Christmas Carols!  We are the ones to be celebrating His coming!

He has come!  He is coming!

Do it!  Do it late; do it imperfectly, just do it!

Don’t worry about having special books to read, or a special candle display.  You traditionally use four pink/purple candles (light a new one each Sunday in December leading up to Christmas) and a white candle (lit on Christmas day) – if you can get out today and get those, great.  But if not, just light a candle….

If you don’t have a special advent book, just read Psalm 23, for the first night.  And talk to your family about God being our shepherd.  And talk about why God might call us sheep.  And why do sheep need a shepherd?  And if you have some cotton balls and construction paper, let the kids make a little sheep ornament to hang on the tree.

Or if you’re looking for a little more, print out this beautiful free Advent Christmas Devotional from Ann Voskamp.

Make it more this year.  Not more lights or greenery.  Not more gifts or baked goods.

More of Him.  More of looking for Him

It’s not too late.