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.
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.
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.
Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,”
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dried up the bones.
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.”
Merry Christmas, friends. May your life and your joy be full.
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