I have a confession to make but please cover the ears of your elf on the shelf first.
I hate Christmas.
Before you think I am just a grinch whose heart is 2 sizes too small, it isn't what Christmas is that bothers me.
I love the fact that my God came to earth born a fragile baby with a lusty cry whose first visitors were stable animals. There is something earthy and real in that God. But that isn't the Christmas I hate.
I hate carols that are so trite and sung mindlessly. I hate the shopping that turns usually nice individuals into maniacal monsters as they go into debt, buy things no one will really care for just to be thought well of, or knock down other shoppers for $59 off their flat screen TV. I hate the unspoken competition to be a Martha Stewart and have a beautifully appointed home with all the right holiday touches, bake 17 dozen cookies of assorted varieties, send out cards with a poignant and comical newsletter enclosed in envelopes with holiday stamps. Family gatherings are reminders of who has passed, who will pass soon, missed opportunities and potential never reached.
What I really hate, though, is the decorating.
My husband is a steady man who appreciates tradition and consistency. I suppose I would if someone were creating them around me, but when I open that box to decorate the tree, or the closet full of boxes for that matter, all I see are memories and missing pieces.
I lost my childhood stocking when I moved to this house 20 years ago and I always wonder where it went. I have ornaments & stockings for dogs that I loved and lost, for my son who grew up and left home, for my granddaughter that I don't see nearly enough.
Yes, I am sure that I should see them as reminders of all the gifts that I have been blessed with throughout my life, but somehow when my son grew up and out, decorating isn't attractive anymore. Just lonely and sad.
And as I drive around tonite, cooling off from the frustration of trying to decorate because I "should," I thought back to the Christmas that matters to me.
Giving birth the first time is frightening enough, but to be away from home and part of a remarkable but confusing story must have made it a bit more daunting. With all the people flooding Bethlehem, it was probably noisy and lonely. Did anyone know them? Recognize them? Care about them? I doubt it if the only place she could find to have her baby was a barn.
The barn wasn't nicely appointed. There was no animal mobile, just mobile animals. The crib linens were not starched or matching the curtains. It was straw that animals were eating from not too long before.
But despite an environment that would make Martha Stewart burn her cookies and break a nail, my God gulped his first breath as a human being. He didn't seem to mind the lack of ammenities. Snuggling with a warm momma and lulled to sleep by the sounds of the animals was all he needed that night. God doesn't seem to like creating facades. Real, earth, honest, wonder. Those are the words I think of when I consider the first Christmas.
Somehow it is comforting to know that the first Christmas looked nothing like we want Christmas to look like now.
Decorating can be finished tomorrow.