The Mess of Christmas
Bring out the glitter. Bring out the lights. Roll out the flashy festivities.
…and on comes the heart drama. There is always some trauma behind it all. Punctures run deep behind the picture-perfect, and aren’t the holidays always full of both?
I read my friend’s post today about her own fractured Christmas and I echo many of her sentiments.
This is the story of how the dog ate the ornaments,
BEFORE I made them.
With these kiddos, I’m not sure we’ve had a Christmas anywhere near what we wanted yet. We had years where we scowled at the thing.
Oh the poor friends that dared to ask my children about the baby Jesus! My girl gave a scrooge-ish answer “He was born to die.” (Oh how I hate to admit that! The story is so much more, and cultural tradition that it is – why not celebrate this great gift!)
In the years since, we’ve tried to create advent traditions. They fizzle. Multiple books, projects and advent calendars abandoned. We are forever forgetting just how full our hands get, and this year our hands feel fuller than ever, with many unknowns in our future.
In October when I got a copy of “The Greatest Gift.” As I flipped through the pages, they resonated. Why not make the pretty ornaments and talk it over with the kids each night? (The readings are more than my kids can follow at this point, so hubbs and I read it for our own benefit and then pick points to share with the kids.)
And I couldn’t hang bare computer paper on a tree. I needed more flair than that! I was on the lookout for weeks. What could I “Up-cycle.” What material would I modge-podge those pretty pictures onto?
Then came the punctured and traumatized Literary Jenga blocks – the ones the dog ate. They HAD to have part in this new tradition…the tradition of a less than perfect celebration of The Gift that meets us right where we are – in the broken: holes and shiny paint and all.
Tonight we told them a story (yes, we are behind, but that’s not the point) – the story of God providing a ram in a thicket when all looked lost. And after they went to bed, somehow in the mess or myself, in the mess of parenting, in the mess of marriage and most of all in the literal mess of the house – I barely had the strength to grab the broom – to hope. The mess never stops. Ever.
…and yet, through the millennia I hear David in a raw whisper, and I join the chorus…
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:26
And as the preacher man said today, “the anchor holds.” And I think of Issac laying there with his dad ready to slay him. Compliant. Having faith in his father and his God…and yet I’m sure fear had to be knocking hard on his heart. Did it feel like years? The long walk up, no lamb in site? Piling up the wood? Father raising knife above him? …and then there in the thicket! God provided a ram, and with the ram a path for an entire nation – for Zion.
These incomplete ornaments with sparkle and chew marks, they give testimony that he provides. In the glimmering lights and in the broken – He provides.
This I know, that God is for me.. – Psalm 56:9b