It has begun: the pressure, and stress and traffic and 'endless have-to's'. Christmas stresses me out.
There, I said it.
I want to be the one who longs for this season, the one who loves to capture the joy of my kids' faces and jolliness of my neighbors. I really do.
I laid awake most of Friday night, unable to get all of my 'have-to's off my mind. I pondered how to fit in more physical therapy appointments that I don't have time for. I wrestled with how to keep school schedules on track even as they seem to be derailed. I planned the boy's life for him as he will only be under our wingspan till May. And, in the next breath, I thought about the plan for outdoor Christmas lights.
To top it off, I don't like seasonal decorating. It seems all I can think of when I'm putting all the joyous 'shtuff' out is how many weeks till I have to take it all down, which takes more time. Help me. In addition to the small problems covered earlier, I also laid awake trying to come up with a plan for fitting a Christmas tree into an already overfurnished room. Sigh. Christmas is supposed to be one of the 'bookends' that encapsulate the faith. Together with Easter, we as believers are supposed to light the world with our joy. I so want to be that resonating beam! But I'm forever trying to 'fit it all in' till He, the One we celebrate gets pushed out.
Saturday morning came early from my restless night, and we started in, bringing all the Christmas storage in from the garage. We worked to fit all the 'joy' in the house. We worked and unwrapped and worked some more. Decorating the tree is always full of memories as we strive to buy ornaments from wherever we've been. So unwrapping them is literally like an episode of 'This is Your Life", a trip down memory lane. The youngest always ponders the photo ornaments that were shot before she was born. A glass ball gets broken and swept up. And last but not least, we decide on a place for the manger scene. Let me explain. One of our first Christmases as a married couple, my man surprised me with a 15 piece manger scene that he diligently crafted from rough ceramic clay forms. He shaped, sanded, painted, had it fired, all without me knowing. It may be one of my most treasured possessions. And, simply, it's beautiful. I always wait till last to unwrap it. Very carefully packed away every year in its own nest, no pieces have been broken, even in the turmoil of so many military moves. Because of its cherished status, my mantra always remains that "the less it's moved, the less chance there is of something happening to it".
So, as usual, we unwrapped it last.
After the pieces all animals and characters stood erect and worshipful in their places, I stood back to look and awe, again.
Then it hit me.
Maybe that's what's wrong with me.
Why am I always unwrapping Jesus last ?? Shouldn't He be the FIRST gift we open this season? Maybe if we unwrap Him first, the rest of the 'shtuff' takes it's rightful place behind Him. Maybe. Maybe if we ponder the Miracle of His pursuing us, the Promises that He kept and will keep, our small 'issues' of our everyday diminish to their rightful size. Maybe if I unwrap Him first, my already overcrowded life and heart become bigger, bursting with Joy. I don't know about you, but I could use some miracles in my life. So many issues crowd my brain and life, miracles are welcome here. And, maybe unwrapping Him first, I can see again that miracles are not only possible, but happen all around me.....everyday.
My heart needs the miracle of Christmas this year. Join me in reading during the season of Advent, Ann Voskamp's newest book. I'm thrilled this came along just as timely as Christmas.