Last year my kids ate cereal for Christmas breakfast. For reals. Cereal. To be fair, we had done a Christmas Eve brunch the day before, and Christmas was on a Sunday, so we were in a hurry. But. But. But.
I started feeling behind on Christmas this year a few weeks before Thanksgiving, because this year I want it all to be smooth. I want to have all my gifts wrapped and done early enough to really enjoy the season with the kids, I want to keep the house clean, make it all feel restful and smell good. My big goal is that we can stay up late on Christmas Eve, but only as late as we want. Which is probably about 9:30. I am cleaning out closets all over the house and purging toys – getting ready so there is a home for everything by the day after Christmas. I want to have bins in the right sizes (for legos and such) in the garage ready to be filled. This is all very pipe-dream.
In reality I did make a paper mache snowman with the kids. He isn’t done yet, but he is looking cute. I just don’t know if we will do a gingerbread house, and the sugar cookies I could do without entirely, as well as the caramel, but I suspect a crisp salad doesn’t appeal as much to my children. So my chances of getting out of the season without those things are pretty slim.
But why all this emphasis on getting ahead and getting things together? Oh. Right. Last year my kids ate cereal for Christmas breakfast. The real reason that they ate cereal is that I was too busy puking to make them any food. Shadrach, bless his tiny little butt, was making his early presence felt, and I do the pukes for the first few months of pregnancy. My husband forbade me guilting over the Christmas breakfast scene. He said something brilliant like, “Stop it. No. It doesn’t matter. They will be so excited anyway that they will not care.” Good man. It’s hard to know if he was comforting me, or just trying to keep a huge mess off of his to-do list, but either way he was being smart.
Last Christmas I also never made the tree look cute, although I spent way more time than ever before lying on the couch looking at it. Titus accidentally jumped into the tree, dragging the garlands into a major droop that no one ever fixed. At some point, I think when it was time to take the tree down – that would make more sense than anything else – the tree spent an entire day and a half lying on the living room floor. We kept it lit to keep our spirits up. I took a picture – because even blinded by the reek of the presence of food in our house, I could see it was funny. Bless yourself with that picture that I have shared it with you. Drink it in.
But the real reason that I have brought this up is that I have been reflecting a lot on what Christmas is supposed to be like. I have celebrated Christmas as a little girl who got rubber bands and bungee cords in her stocking (huge thrill), which turned out to have been more a result of my parents having no money that year and Dad picking some stuff up at the hardware store. I have celebrated Christmas at the homes of Grandparents who have since gone to be with the Lord, and there are strong memories and love of the funny moments with those sweet people. I have celebrated Christmas as a single girl, whose best-friend siblings were all married and busy with their own families. I have celebrated Christmas as a new wife and as a brand new mother. I have celebrated Christmas as a morning- sick mother of five wild-card-fun-time children, who danced around the tree flat on its side. And this year I hope to celebrate Christmas as a more put together (dare I hope?) mother of six.
And while each of us has celebrated Christmas through the years in a number of different situations, it is the very difference that is so powerful. Some of us are celebrating this Christmas while grieving. Some of us are celebrating in the face of loss, in the face of fear, in the face of sorrow. Some of us are celebrating this Christmas with new believers in our families, with repaired relationships. Some of us are celebrating this Christmas alone, looking forward to a time when there are people who want us, need us, and depend on us. Some of us are celebrating this Christmas tired, worn out from the hardest year we’ve ever had. Some of us are celebrating Christmas in awe at the number of blessings that have been poured out on us this year.
But this is the beauty of Christmas. Christmas did not just come to the world once, in Bethlehem. When Jesus came into this world, into that manger, He came for all time. He came came for us this year. When we are celebrating Christmas, we are acknowledging that here, now, we have a Savior. We are celebrating the presence of our Savior in the situation we are currently in. We are celebrating that our Savior did not just come to people once. He came to us all, now.
So I look fondly at that mess of a Christmas last year, and while I would like to throw away all the ornaments and start over, I rejoice. Last year, we had a Savior. This year, we have a Savior. Forever, we have a Savior.
So look around you this year. Remind yourself that your Savior came to you here, and He came to you now. Grab all the stuff you can, and throw a party. And if you don’t have any money this year, grab the old newspapers and make some decorations. And if you have money this year, act like it. This is Good News, people, not old news. This year, like all the years before us, and all the years ahead, we have a Savior. And that is the best reason to party that I ever heard of.