The coffee cake, breakfast casserole, the ornaments nestled into the tree, Santa on the door, my grandparents bible turned to Luke 2 – Christmas traditions of remembrance, traditions of hope.
Despite the traditions un-boxed after Thanksgiving each year, real life happens. Good intentions move their way through December less gracefully than I hope or intend.
Slouchy hats knitted, Christmas candy made – and the feast – when you live away from extended family, Holiday-making is a one-mom job leaving the Martha and Mary within me wrestling – as I fill canisters that make life taste a little sweeter, wrap lights around trees to make life sparkle more, play music that evokes the joy and meaning of the season.
The man-made part of Christmas is exhausting.
One of my boys, slightly affronted, amused and exasperated at the same time – when I called him by his brother’s name instead of his own, stood in the entry hall, “Mom, don’t you know which one I am?”
(Don’t all good mothers do this?) I thought, “On some days, I’m the Easter Bunny. Another day, the Tooth Fairy. Today? Santa Clause? If I can’t keep track of who I am, how can I keep track of who you are?”
. . . . and, I think I might possibly have said that out-loud. Then, like any good mom, I felt a dose of guilt because I just might have crushed his 17-year-old belief in Santa – or was that my 15-year-old’s belief. . .
I’m not even quite sure he heard me because he didn’t respond – either through shock, or just because he’s a teenager – and, well, teenagers are notorious for not hearing their mama’s words- unless you really don’t want them to.
While unwrapping gifts Christmas morning and evening, all gifts came with a disclaimer – the enclosed gift just may not be yours – be prepared to swap – only because 1) name tags didn’t stick and 2) the dog chewed up some bows with name tags attached.
Christmas Eve found me searching for a Christmas Service to attend that had 1) the Christmas Story, and 2) Traditional Christmas songs that told the Christmas Story. The boys warily eyed my choices. Historically, some of my choices have been more misses than hits. They haven’t let me forget a mid-night service of Gregorian chants, among other unusual experiences.
When I decided on an 11 p.m. service, though, there was hardly a peep.
My newly married son and his sweet wife were spending the night with us, along with their two boys – Brooks and Junior, 2 golden retrievers. This son kept asking, “11 p.m.? We’re really going at 11 p.m. I’m usually in bed asleep by 7.”
He didn’t have to go, I told him. It was O.K. if he didn’t go – and I said that seriously, without any hint or intent of sorrowful guilt-tripping.
It meant more to me that he wanted than going to make me happy.
I think he really wanted to go; he just didn’t want to admit it. Maybe, just maybe, it was as important to him as it was to me.
Together, most of my boys, my husband and I, greeted Christmas morning at mid-night, steeped in the story of the birth of our Savior – from the Angels singing Gloria to the shepherds in the field, to the manger, to the silent, holy night when the son of God became man all because of a love and faithfulness deeper and truer any of us can grab hold of.
Every Christmas, that’s what I do, what I want my family to do – grab hold of this truth, try to understand it even more throughout the year.
Real life needs this.
The colorful bows, shiny green, red and candy-cane paper, Risk, Pick-up Sticks, Rocket Balloons, a Red Radio Flyer wagon, chess sets, pocket watches, soccer cleats, blue soccer pants, and sugared pecans – cannot drown out the simple quiet message of the meaning of Christmas.
My soul yearns to hear it, pull it in deep and live it better the next 365 days.
Inside the pocket watch we gave a son, Romans 15:13 was engraved.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”
Real life needs this – every day of every year!