The Here and the Now.

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.

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38 thoughts on “The Here and the Now.

  1. I love your posts on Christmas…in fact, if I recall correctly, you wrote a post called something like ‘Christmas Reality’ last year about the Titus-crashing-into-the-tree incident that I have already reread a couple of times. Thanks for reminding us what it’s really about (and that it doesn’t matter if I don’t get my handmade Advent wreath done before this weekend; we can use the old candlebra that’s in the closet and celebrate our Saviour’s coming all the same!).

  2. Loved this. I am not the one lying on the couch being sick, but our routine is similarly goofed up this season. I got a few gifts purchased, but then some anonymous soul at the Children’s Hospital called and asked for our family’s Christmas wish list, and hey, who am I to argue with that? Now I can focus on getting the lights up and the advent candies slipped into the pockets of our big felt calendar. We’re not absolutely sure where we’ll be celebrating Christmas this year, but in the unlikely event that we end up somewhere near the pediatric oncology ward, I already have plans for doing some festive decorating on the theme of “the holly and the IV.” And we’re all looking forward to celebrating—one way or the other—the birth of the Savior.

  3. I was literally just looking around my house thinking, “Boy do I need to clean all these decorations up and make it all look perfect-ey and tidy and perfect and… perfect.” And I went to the computer to find something similarly perfect on Pinterest to, you know, help with my perfectionism, and what comes up on my screen first? THIS.
    I so needed this, mostly because I have a feeling this Christmas will be spent similar to your last year’s holiday – watching the festivities from the vantage of the couch. Blech, but still blessed. Thanks for this!

  4. thank you for this! as an aspiring mother of a large family who also struggles with perfectionism, i need to hear this… that some time things will be very (very, very) messy and imperfect but that it is also a good thing to strive for things to be together.

    loved “loving the little years” and excited to read the next book!

  5. I needed this! I’m pregnant with my 3rd and cereal was breakfast and lunch today (and might be on Christmas, too!). We don’t have to do it all, even at Christmas. I hope that if nothing else I can share the love of Christ with my family this year. If breakfast happens, great. Don’t expect much for dinner 😉

  6. Another great post, thanks! Our Christmas morning tradition is to eat cereal out of those individually sized cereal boxes. My kids wouldn’t have it any other way!

  7. And on the other end, we hope to see a father into the Lord’s presence sometime soon…..if he’ll just stop shaking his fists in Jesus’ face and damning everyone around him to hell (as though he could). Wonderful, Rachel. Thank you. –And the picture!

  8. I cried I laughed so hard. As soon as I saw the picture, I had to show it to my husband and tell him, “See. We’re not the only ones who have kids who (without meaning to) want to destroy our house.”

  9. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it with us all. I have had many Christmas celebrations, all of them unique and special, but to be reminded that nothing else matters except celebrating the love of God that sends us Jesus, for now and always is the best.

  10. Re. the first paragraph: you mean to tell me you don’t celebrate Holy Eucharist first thing every Christmas?

  11. I actually think your cereal for Christmas morning is a great idea. I think I’ll do it! Cereal is a novelty around here and if I served them Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms, I think my kids would give my the Mom of the Year award!

  12. Wonderful! Last Christmas, I had a 10-day-old baby, and it was our first Christmas in our first house, but my two older kids ate cereal for breakfast too. Like you, I’m hoping/planning that this year will be a bit different 🙂 Thanks so much for reminding me that I’m not the only busy mommy trying to make a memorable and fun Christmas experience while wading knee-deep in foam letters, stuffed animals, and couch pillows 🙂

  13. Ha, that’s funny! My kids nearly always eat cereal on Christmas morning. It is their great delight to choose some totally sugary, disgustingly unhealthy box of cereal to chow into 🙂

  14. I laughed so hard that it took me a while to calm down before I could read what you posted. I’ve always feared the tree falling over. Somehow it seems a lot less daunting knowing you’ve gone before us!

  15. That made me giggle. I tend to lean on the cant be bothered side of the festive season. But this year, I’m trying to branch out and make it fun. Because as you’ve said… We have a saviour! And that is worth celebrating! Looking forward to your dads book on Christmas to arrive in the post.

  16. O, I remember similar Christmases! I wasn’t pregnant but I was very sick and one of my children didn’t even get a gift because we went shopping on Christmas Eve – all of us – and I ended up in the emergency room! I can’t remember Christmas dinner that year but it was ridiculous I’m sure! It is true that no matter what Immanuel was with us then, IS with us now and will be with us forever!!!

  17. This was beautiful, Rachel. Thank you. I spent a few years in a row celebrating Christmas while grieving deaths of my children… and this year, we are celebrating Christmas while celebrating AND anticipating *life*. It feels different, yet there are aspects that are the same. And you hit the nail on the head (as you often do): it’s because the Good News is that we have a Savior! In the grief and in the joy, we celebrate because He was, He is, and He is to come! Amen. Thank you for the ever-timely reminders.
    Happy Advent ~ sweet anticipating.

  18. Believe it or not, one of the things our kids look forward to the most about Christmas morning is that they get to pick WHATEVER cereal they want from the store to eat for breakfast. Mama gets a morning cooking-free and they think they’re nearly in heaven!

  19. Love it! Thank you.
    I love to plan but pregnant with my fifth am learning to flex in the planning…..:o)
    Well, now that I have caught my breath from throwing my brains up this morning I’m off to make a mess decorating Christmas shirts with the kids!

    PS thanks for including a picture of the tree, my husband and I got such a kick out of that!

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