Christmas Still Comes
I was sure Christmas was going to escape us this year. I was sure that if you didn't go to a Christmas Eve service or a single holiday party that it wouldn't happen. It just couldn't, right?! What if you ate chick-fil-a on Christmas Eve? And didn't buy the matching pi's? Is that pushing it?
I am here to tell you Christmas still comes! And beautifully too....
It's funny how many times I've been reminded by God that my plans are not always His plans...and I still have a hard time accepting it. You would think by the 178th time, you would get it. But no. You need the reminders! At least I do.
I had begun this year with grand plans to bake for our neighbors, sing at the nursing home, create fun decorations with the kids, and make a wreath for my fireplace. I was going to be a servant and give, because isn't that more blessed than receiving? I also had visions of Steven and I watching Christmas movies after the kids went to bed, with plaid pajamas, and fuzzy socks, and coffee in our mugs. I wanted to get a family photo oh so bad....and then. None of it really happened.
Sickness hit us. And then hit us again. Till I was afraid to plan anything or go anywhere, lest somebody come down with something the minute we arrived. (Happened one too many times!) I baked, but couldn't give it to anybody with our germs. The weather hit us pretty hard here in Oklahoma, and I love my fair share of crazy weather, but my husband's job doesn't. :) So we didn't see him much in the month of December and when he came home he flopped in bed exhausted.
I kept thinking we would get well and my plans would take place. I would get to wear the glittery pants I had bought and we would make jingle bells for the residents at the nursing home. And you would think I would learn by now to give up a little easier on silly things like pants and bells. But no. I still cling to those things like my life depended on it sometimes. Every night in December that nothing went my way, I would look over at my One Thousand Gifts book knowing I needed to pick it up and read it. I had an inkling it would put me in my place until finally. It happened.
A boy we knew (16 years old) died in a car wreck a couple days before Christmas and the night the ice storm hit us. I remember the first time I met him how much he reminded me of my brother Matt. Likable personality. Talented. Athletic. SO much going for him. I cried that day. Hard. Because I saw again how precious life is and what it is that truly matters. How easily I take living, breathing, moments with the ones I love and try to replace it with Target and wreaths and cookies. How much we cheapen life, I think.
That night I picked up One Thousand Gifts. God changed me right there in my bed. With my tired husband laying next to me and my content children all sharing a bed in their room. I laid there convicted with my weapons of self-preservation and belt of good excuses. I began laying them down with every new word I read and every prayer of confession. In my low, I remembered saying something to Steven in Old Navy when we were picking up gifts for my sisters..."If you haven't gotten me anything for Christmas, I would really love this!" (Pointing to an item on the rack.) There it was. Expectation. The root of a lot of the discontentment in December. And I felt so sorry. That I had even for a minute thought Christmas was about me.
The next morning I apologized to him and asked him not to get me anything. Somehow, I knew it wouldn't feel good to get something I had put on a guilt trip about. I was in no way in the right spirit to receive. Or give, for that matter. But God, as always, has different plans. That day, two of my friends unexpectedly stopped by my stir-crazy house and dropped something off for us for Christmas. I stood there with uncombed hair and unbrushed teeth with nothing to give them.
And I was humbled .
That same day, another friend sent us a card in the mail and a Starbucks gift card. And I looked up at God and smiled. Isn't it just like Him to use people to speak to us? To wait for us to say we're sorry, so we can receive with a much happier and thankful heart?! Isn't it ten times better that way?
Christmas Eve came and I dropped Steven off at work so I could use our one vehicle that wasn't iced over. (I am laughing just thinking about our poor Buick sitting there looking pitiful all week!) I took the kids to a toy store and then I went to a nearby park and got my Christmas photos of the kids with the ice sparkling. Steven called and said he was done, so we drove to get him with Handel's Messiah blaring from the radio. He looked tired and worn out. Much how I felt too. But we yelled "Merry Christmas!!!!" at him and he broke into the biggest grin. We got a milkshake after that and broke all my vegetarian rules with Chick-fil-a. And then the coolest thing happened.
We had yet to get ingredients for our Baby Jesus cake, so we stopped by Whole Foods on our way home. I bought a tiny ham for Steven and bacon for a treat in the morning. I gathered up all my cake ingredients and then on my way out the security guard said, "They're giving all of these away for free," pointing to small christmas trees, swags, and poinsettias. "Take as much as you like."
And I looked up at God and smiled again. "You did it again. Thank you for my wreath, Lord. "
And that was Christmas. Beautiful. In every way, shape, and form.