Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When You Already Need a Christmas Do-Over

This is not the vision I had for the 2012 Christmas season, not how I planned to worship the coming of our King.

By mid-November, the Operation Christmas Child boxes were packed and shipped.  The week of Thanksgiving, the children and I decorated the house for Christmas with deep crimson poinsettias and tiny white lights, hand crocheted stockings and the pink tinsel tree with its treasure trove of history dragging down the branches.

Everything was on track for a repeat of last year, the first time since my oldest son's birth that I felt peace about how our family celebrated Christ's birth by keeping some traditions while still retaining focus on Jesus' birth.

Then, our family had gathered for Sunday afternoon and evening meals around the purple Advent candles. We had read the Scriptures and daily placed ornaments on The Jesse Tree, which reminded my children of God's journey through history that brought Him to the place when He would send forth His one and only Son.

But here we are, eleven days into December, and the candles remain unlit, the Jesse tree undecorated, the Christmas cards addressed but still sitting on my dining room table, the traditional foods all as yet unbaked.

The calendar's turn came with fireworks, my oldest, husband, and I knocked out by the stomach flu a few hours before the month began.  By the following Tuesday, the living room rug had been converted into a makeshift sick ward full of plastic-encased pillows, mounds of soft, fleece blankets, and hospital bed pans as the twins succumbed to the same illness.

It was three days before my daughter spoke again. Even our year-old "kitten," Hannah, gave up her mouse chasing games to sit and cuddle our tiny girl's head as she huddled under daddy's warm crocheted blanket, her body too exhausted to move.

By Friday, with the tide turning, husband and I went out for an hour's dinner just to find ourselves amidst the chaos of the week.  Huge mistake.  Ever since, I have been the exhausted patient, striving to overcome a debilitating case of food poisoning.  Success this week has been marked in terms of minutes, spoonfuls, and fluid ounces.

Our children are on the mend, as is evidenced by the fact that they have all started fussing and yelling at each other again.  I guess the same must be true of their mother, since this afternoon as I tried valiantly to swallow anti-nausea medicine, I stopped and complained to God.

This wasn't the Christmas season I had wanted to give you, Lord. Eleven days of worship already lost.

In that still, small voice, my Father reminded me that I had been worshiping Him and giving Him gifts throughout all the sickness.

I was reminded that this Christmas season is about sacrifice, about God giving His everything for us--starting in that manger and ending at the cross.

While washing multiple load of puked-on laundry, rinsing and re-rinsing bedpans, praying without ceasing, forcing myself to attend my son's first Christmas performance, and rocking fevered babes may not seem to embody the Christmas season, I  couldn't be more wrong.

These actions are all about sacrificing myself--my time, my body, my everything--all for another person.  They have been about demonstrating Jesus' love and mercy in action to each other.

I have demonstrated the Christmas spirit with my gift of true, selfless love to my children.  In turn, my husband has demonstrated such unfathomable love to me.  And even my children have demonstrated more compassion towards each other and to me than they usually do.

The extra trip to Wal-mart for more mashed potatoes and ginger ale, a soft rub of a concerned little cheek against my shoulder, a shy confession of prayers said for me and a sister--this is a Christmas gift our family has given each other.

Without giving it any thought, each of us has been caught doing not random acts of kindness for each other but consistent acts of kindness.
Maybe by week's end, I will be well enough to eat again, maybe start a little baking or just walk the mall and soak up the sounds and smells of the season with my mother.

But if not one cranberry loaf rises in the oven, if the advent candles remain dark, if the Jesse tree's branches are still naked...in short, if I end up spending this whole Christmas season showing others love in these less than the traditional ways, that's ok.  As Jennifer @ Getting Down with Jesus said just last week, the greatest gift we can give our God is all our heart.

Sometimes, there is no better way to give God our all than to willingly tip our heart's vessel so that our love and devotion to Him spill over onto others as an anointing of sacrificial blessing.


  1. Good points.
    There is nothing sacred about a tradition, the sacred happens inside the hearts of men, women and children. If a tradition spurs that great, but God uses a great many things to stir it.

  2. Beautiful beautiful truth. Love the overflow of your heart here on paper. May you all heal in body and spirit soon.