07 December 2010

christmas and all it's ornaments

For any party, any celebration, for any pre-meditated giving of hospitality there is a normal preparation process: grocery shop, clean the bathroom, vacuum the floors, chop, cook, bake, snap at David, tidy the kitchen, say sorry to David, light the candles and set up the patio or the table and then wait for the first knock.

Last time we were getting ready for guests I got frazzled (as usual) and David asked if it will always have to be that way.


And I realized, hey! No! It doesn't have to be this way! And, good grief, why is it that way? Why do I get snappy? Stress is normal and fine. But two questions--what exactly am I feeling pressure about? And why?

I have this vision of what "right" or "put together" looks like. And then anything less than that is a failure and makes me look bad. Uh...what kind of pretty is that? It's empty and certainly not welcoming.

Desire for a guest to be welcome, blessed, loved--those are good reasons for a pretty home. Those are good reasons to give a pretty present. Those are good reasons for a little pressure, but not good reasons to be rude or snide. A good intention is so easy to accidentally squeeze lifeless. I have to hold the intentions gently, with an openness and joy that generosity requires.

So, I've been wondering about Christmas. Thinking a lot about why we all do what we do. Why am I already feeling stressed and a little snappy about Christmas dinner? Why did I demand a Christmas tree (in the nicest possible way, of course)? Why do I feel like a chicken with my head cut off when I think about the procurement of Christmas gifts?

I think of the celebration. This is one of our happiest times of year. We celebrate Emmanuel--God with us! We celebrate a bright spot in all of eternity, but it's so easy to accidentally get tangled in the lights and ornaments. So easy to accidentally squeeze the life out of it.

Instead, I'm pondering reality.
Pondering the great generosity of our Good Father.
Pondering a heavy Maria riding on a donkey, stumbling into a damp stable toward a scratchy manger.
Pondering a star in the darkest night.
Pondering angels singing over shepherds.

Thinking about how I can give Jesus a good gift. How we can really celebrate him--have a real party for his birthday!

It's a little bit of pressure. A little stressful. And so real, so normal. We will celebrate with family. Celebrate with an unmarried mother. Celebrate with lights in the darkness. Celebrate with rich food and tired people. So profoundly real and true and right. I long for beauty on the inside and the outside. I long for people to be welcome and blessed and loved. I long to give and I long to receive.


Lori Jackson said...

Nice encouraging thoughts. I like how you let David sharpen your thinking as well.

Momma S said...

Thank you for this, Anna. Good for my heart today. Love you!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the sentiment that sometimes you snap at your spouse, clean something, then apologize... and that it can take cleaning something to realize you were rude. This is me a lot, especially around the holidays or during May (birthday month).

God is one of the reasons we don't have a Christmas tree. I know that every time I'd look at it, I'd complain. It isn't exactly the right size or shape. It's one more thing to keep little hands away from, even though we're tempting them with all the pretty ornaments and lights. It's one more thing to take care of... one more thing to turn off before bed.
This isn't a season for complaining, it's a season for rejoicing and enjoying family time. We'll have a tree eventually, but for now I like reveling in the teeny bit of peace that not having one brings to my family.