THE TAKE AWAY
By Kersley Fitzgerald
"I'm starting to hate Christmas," a friend said.
"Me, too!" I mentally ran through a list of drama that's been going on lately, family stuff, diet stuff, JT losing half his homework and dropping a letter grade in 2 or 3 classes within a week. The long drive. The gifts. Not getting the right gifts. Not giving the right gifts...
My friend continued her story which culminated in over-paying for a gift by $12.
My Facebook newsfeed is filled to overflowing with drama. That Duck Dynasty guy, the "war" on Christmas, the rantings over "Happy Holidays," the fight over whether to celebrate Christmas at all... Why do we bother if the whole thing is just going to make us so grouchy?
Today I've decided I'm not going to play anymore. It's Christmas. Yeah, there's drama and pine needles on the carpet and what are we going to do with the child for his 2-week break, but it's Christmas! That's supposed to be a good thing! So here are some good things:
I get new pajamas. After 18 years, I almost have Dev trained that Christmas Eve is the day for new pajamas. Sure I had to pick out and buy my pants (and I got the wrong size...), and sure he was so nervous about the whole thing he already showed me what shirt he bought me (love it!), but Christmas Eve pajamas! Yay!
I got JT a gift I know he's going to LOVE. He's been begging for a bathrobe for years (I have no idea why a 12-year old needs a bathrobe, but he seems to think he does). We got him a TARDIS bathrobe. He's going to be so stoked he'll fart timey-wimey rainbows.
The day after Christmas is my in-laws' 50th wedding anniversary. That's a really big deal for me since my family has so many divorces. I'm looking forward to celebrating with them.
We got to see The Hobbit for our staff Christmas party. We also had a secret Santa. The boss got my name, and he hand-made me a book that lists out things I can still eat. It includes dirt, grass, puppies, giant grubs, and unicorns. I think it's hilarious. And great that my friends can think of my allergies as amusing instead of incredibly annoying.
This list makes me want to Jesus-juke myself. It's all about the cultural, Santa Claus Christmas, and nothing about the birth of Jesus. Honestly, I never really got the deal with the tiny baby Jesus, "lyin' there in your ghost manger, just lookin' at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors..." * Nativity scenes make me uneasy; Jesus is the King of the Universe, not a plastic baby with "Made in China" stamped on His butt.
There's a couple of things I've read lately, however, that do bring me joy.
The first is a blog post by my friend Alan Cross. He talks about how he's finally at peace with the two Christmases. How there's the secular, Santa, gift-giving Christmas — and how he's okay with that — and the celebrate Jesus Christmas. About how the secular Christmas season will start sooner and sooner. He says:
Knowing all of this and seeing the direction that it is headed, I am resigned to it. Of course, I don't like it. I think it is often ridiculous. I think it will eventually blow up and people will begin to ignore much of what they have considered precious over time. It will be too much. Consumerism always causes you to gorge until you throw up.That would be great, wouldn't it? Maybe people would realize how useless the culture is and get curious about that small, marginalized thing Christians are doing on the 25th. Meanwhile, Christians will be free to celebrate Christmas (and Thanksgiving) the way they want — as sincere, undistracted worship of our God.
Which, if you think about it, we are. We are free to celebrate Christmas as we choose. No one forces us to shop on Black Friday or put an inflatable Santa on our front lawn. The trick is we have to accept that we can't force secular Christmas-celebrators to observe the day like we do. That's okay, too. We just have to be patient and wait until they get tired of the whole over-commercialization thing and ask us why we still love the holiday.
The other thing I read was a six-year old blog post on where Mary was when she delivered Jesus. Ben Witherington III (great name) explains the text doesn't support a random barn but the back cave/stable of one of Joseph's relatives where the prized animal was kept. They were late — the rest of the house was filled. And it would be extremely awkward if Mary gave birth in a more public room, since the room would become unclean for a period of time. It reminds me of some friends who travelled to relatives' for a family trip. When they arrived, the hosts apologized and said the only room left was the garage. But they'd erected a tent and set up an inflatable mattress. My friends said it was one of the quietest, most peaceful stays they'd ever had.
This interpretation delights me. The cave would have been in the back of the house. The house would have been filled with family, including several women who could be with Mary. Not some dark, dank lean-to with an inexperienced husband her the only midwife.
All of this is conjecture. We don't know the exact circumstances of Jesus' birth. What we do know, and what this interpretation reminds me, is that God takes care of us. He provides. He works in our lives to give us what we need.
Which is why He sent Jesus in the first place.
So this Christmas I choose to remember this. The good stuff. From TARDIS bathrobes to the birth of the King of the Universe. Not the commercialism or the diets or the drama.
What good things are you looking forward to this Christmas?
* Talladega Nights is crude and awful and you shouldn't watch it.
Image source: Sheila White Guevin, A very Ladybug Christmas
Tags: Celebrating-Holidays | Christian-Life | Personal-Life
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