Tag Archives: Holidays

I Want a Perfect Christmas

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I Want a Perfect Christmas

Christmas Morning.

When I write the words, I alternate between anticipation and dread.

I’ve shared childhood Christmas memories here before. Christmas was a very special day in our family. There was no other like it – the mood in the house was positive and everything else was put on hold for a day.

As a child I couldn’t have known how desperately my mother must have missed her extended family, more than a thousand miles away. My focus was appropriately narrow; as a child I saw only the joy of our celebration.

I’m not so naïve anymore. I’ve been at this “adulting” thing a long time. I’ve come to realize that there are not many “perfect” days in this life.

I’ve also realized that perfect is in the eye of the beholder.

My natural tendency is to catalogue all that is not as it should be, or as it once was. That tendency is from the pits of hell and will steal your joy, friends.

If I’m not careful, I’ll note all of the imperfections that surround my normal life and my special days. I’ll stay in a funk and wonder why people avoid my joy-sucking presence.

I have known some memorable Christmas mornings. It’s tempting to long for those days and to mourn their passing, comparing every celebration to that “perfect” one. (My memory is also remarkably selective!)

This Christmas morning, my sweet hubby and I will again awaken to a quiet house. Our children have been celebrating in their own homes for years, making memories with their children. I’m tempted to long for the “good old days” rather than embracing the peace that will fill our hearts as we enjoy what has become our “new” normal.

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This is a little glimpse into our Christmas preparations – a couple more to add, but I think you get the idea. Lots and lots and lots of joy when we gather!

My thoughts quickly turn to the widows and widowers who will wake up alone this Christmas morning; the single parent who is navigating the holidays for the first time since a divorce. I remember those in military service, on mission or even in prison. People are mourning legitimate losses all around us.

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Christmas is just another day for so many who are separated from home and family.

What about that little family on the first Christmas morning? Mary and Elizabeth spent months chatting as they anticipated the arrival of their baby boys. I’m pretty sure that not one time did Mary say “I hope I deliver mine in a stable, out of town, with no one but Joseph around to deliver him.”

The first Christmas was anything but perfect in my natural mind’s eye. I’m also positive that Mary didn’t “naturally” invite dirty shepherds into her meager labor and delivery spot with a hospitable heart. But in her joy, she was able to celebrate the delivery of the promised child. He was given to her, but she knew his life was significant far beyond that stable.

Mary’s joy was not hers alone. The joy of her son, the joy of her family, was to be shared with the world. He was also OUR promise. Jesus was Christmas; the fulfillment of the promise that we never have to be alone again.

The joy he brought is not fleeting, nor is it found in perfect moments. It’s in relationship with our perfect savior.

Before you read on….

If you are mourning a loss dear one, mourn it.

Cling to the one who knows your sorrow and feels it. His word promises that he knows your every toss and turn and he catches every tear. My heart aches for you; it is your loss that has allowed me to see the frivolity of my mourning over failed expectations.

I’m praying that God bends right from heaven and kisses your cheek.

If you are like me, fighting the urge to hope for perfection this Christmas season, go to the source of joy.

Accept no imposters, avoid the cheap knock-offs that the world is pushing on your Facebook news feed.

If you long for the joy of the “perfect” day, these verses are my gift to you.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
Proverbs 8:30

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11

And last but not least….

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
John 10:10

 Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.

lorraine

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A Flame of Hope

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MerryBrightThe weather was beautiful – perfect for an outdoor event on a December evening in Central Florida. The sun was beginning to disappear and the sky was doing that thing where the horizon glows like the edge of the earth is on fire. Early, as is often the case at this stage of our lives, we pulled into the parking lot of the big First Baptist church. It was already beginning to fill up and we paused to greet friends as we walked from the car toward the center of town. People were already gathering, claiming a spot to view the festivities.

The stage, situated opposite the Christmas tree that replaces the fountain as the centerpiece during the holidays, was already filled with singers, warming up and performing sound checks. We took time to get coffee and settled in on the street with thousands of our neighbors. It was small town America at its best.

The program began as the worship team sang the classic “Go Tell it on the Mountain”. People were sitting and standing shoulder to shoulder around the stage and looking around; you couldn’t see the end of them. They were clapping and singing the soulful spiritual. The song was first published in 1907 in a book by John Wesley Work, Jr. who was the first African-American collector of Negro spirituals. It seemed fitting that the worship leader from the Baptist church, a young African American man, led the community as we gathered and celebrated the joy of “telling the story” this Friday evening.

Local pastors, one after another, read from the Bible, sharing the account of the birth of Christ. Then, a single candle was lit and the flame was passed. It was windy, and there were thousands of people. It seemed like a nice thought but an impossible feat, to be honest. I can be pretty realistic pessimistic at times, but as in this case, I’m often wrong.

I watched the flame and the people as they handled it, shielding it from the wind and relighting it as needed. As I saw each person turning to the next, offering the light, my heart swelled with sacred realization. This was a beautiful illustration of the Gospel: every person passing the light of Christ to the next; carefully and intentionally sharing hope.

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As the light traveled across and down the crowded streets, faces shone in the soft light of candles. In the midst of a great crowd of people, my heart was moved. I quietly and privately vowed to a change of heart. While I can’t escape the busier schedule or the responsibilities that come with this season, I will choose hope over stress and anxiety. These are just a few of the things that I hope for this Christmas:

  • To bless my family with the gift of a joyful wife, mother and grandma
  • To explain the concept of a budget to my “love to give” husband
  • To enjoy all things in moderation: food, drink, work and play
  • To enjoy the festivities that come once each year at Christmas
  • Comfort for my recently widowed friend and others who will have their first Christmas without a loved one
  • Peace for mommas everywhere, cause you know…momma stress

I’m relieved that my Christmas tree is decorated. I’m thrilled that we chose to spend Saturday evening with six precious friends who have been together with us through ups and downs for the last several years. I’m grateful for another Christmas shopping day with my sister, my friend.

I’m really glad that I chose to deal with the crowds last Friday evening. I was almost ready to throw in the towel and give up on the whole lot of stuff to do and places to be. I was just too tired and I didn’t have the time. But I ran across this late last week. I can’t even recall how I got to it:

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

I haven’t read the books or even seen the movies, but if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, you’ll recognize the quote is from Gandalf. His flaming words made their mark on my heart. The choices are mine.

  • On Friday night, “Light Up” was the best choice for us.
  • On Saturday afternoon, despite tradition and a multitude of other good reasons to attend our town’s Christmas parade, I chose errands and decorating. It was wonderful to prioritize and complete tasks, and now I can enjoy our home.
  • Saturday night, an intimate party with dear friends was a perfect time to relax and enter the joy of Christmas.
  • Sunday? It was the perfect day with my sister to catch up on more than just a shopping list.

The demands of the season can be overwhelming. The honest truth is that we all have the same currency of hours, and necessities of life often dictate most of the budget. Discretionary spending of time is where the difference is made. I’m vowing to consider every minute as if it were a precious gold coin. I won’t clutch it tight in my hand because thankfully, time, must be spent as it comes. It is a gift to be used and enjoyed and this Christmas season I hope to have no “spender’s remorse”.

May your Christmas be filled with the things that make your heart leap, whether the hustle and bustle of a theme park or mall, the magnificence of a production akin to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular or the blessing of an evening at home.

ShoreNativity