Here it is Christmas, again. And, like every year, I am foolishly hopeful. About what? That there will be a crazy Hallmark festive gathering with my kids, with my family, and with peace on earth.
Yeah, even I am shaking my head at this point. Again, the family is not together. Again, the kids are going to her family's and ours seems like an after thought. Again, work has thrown all my plans up in the air like a pizza that is sure to land on my head.
Why do I do this every year? Typically I come to a point in Advent when I am accepting the fact that nothing is going to go as I would like and it is ok...that Christmas is a time to meditate on the birth of my Savior, not some sort of mystical transformation from dysfunctional bunch of loons to a Norman Rockwell painting.
Perhaps I watched too many versions of Dicken's Christmas Carol this year. I love the one from the 30s. 'Course the one with Jean Luc Picard is good, too. I want to have this awakening in my life, that we should value each other, love each other, speak in English accents. Somehow Christmas is very English.
At church these last few weeks, I have been cringing as the Christmas carols are sung. I have even picked their theology apart, but that is for another day. As a child, of course, I loved this time of year because it was full of wonder and surprise. As an adult, it seems less so. It is full of time constraints and shoulds and never enoughs-good enough, prepared enough, charitable enough-you name it and I have probably berated myself about it.
When I take a moment to breath, to bring my blood pressure down, to prevent myself from smoking to manage the berating in my head...I begin to consider why the wonder is gone.
Is it because I am not getting cool presents that I starred in the Sears catalog? Is it because snow days just mean precarious commutes? Is it because giving isn't as fun as getting? Or is it because I have lost my excitement for the story?
Remember when we were kids in the Nativity play? I never wanted a speaking part, but I really liked being an angel or a shepherd. The angels wore garland coat hanger halos, and not surprisingly I don't think mine was ever straight. The shepherds carried stuffed sheep.
To hear from some unidentifiable bright singing beings that the One their whole world has been waiting for, from stories told for literally hundreds of years, must have been crazy. Imagine dozing off at work and being woke up to that! First you might try to hit the snooze button on the alarm, but then you might startle fully awake in terror! And then, what a story!
For us, we have heard for a very long time that Jesus is coming again. Society has become dull to it. Makes fun of whacky Christians who believe it is going to happen. Some Christians may wonder if it is really going to happen, that Jesus will return on a cloud, or if He is just going to take the easy way out and meet each of us as we take our last breaths.
Imagine a host of angels showing up at your husband's factory, telling them the hour is upon us. That must have been what it was like. We don't know how Jewish the shepherds were. Maybe they were nominally so, as much of America is. But after that night, they were probably a lot more serious.
While this idea of the perfect Victorian Christmas has permeated our collective consciousness, does it have to take over our spirits? How can we have peace on earth with the Prince of Peace governing all we do?
So, yeah, I am still disappointed. Welcome to humanity. However, I am fully rejoicing in my Savior, that babe, not born in December but born into humanity nonetheless, who knows disappointment and grief and cold and sadness and fear, who obeyed His Father despite those things, who promised that He will come again, the One who has been born even within my twisted and selfish heart and continues to heal it and untangle it.
My Prince of Peace, thank you.