Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Thoughts on Christmas

I love Christmas, friends and blogging. So when my bloggy friend Laura asked to guest post on my blog to share some of her thoughts on Christmas, I thought yes! This is the perfect storm of awesome. So without further ado, here's Laura!

My dear friend, Tara, has allowed me to guest post on her blog, and share some things on my heart about this time of year.

Christmas is a season that makes me think a lot.  I read blogs, watch movies, and hear stories about hospitality, togetherness, tradition and all the warm feelings that accompany the season.  I listen to my husband reminisce about holiday sing-alongs, talking with his siblings about nothing in particular late into the night, and a myriad of  other holiday memories and traditions.  It is his stories that have me thinking the most.  He tells me tales of:

- brothers and sisters scrambling downstairs before mom and dad are awake, eagerly anticipating the sugary breakfast cereals awaiting them in their stockings;
- hot apple cider simmering away on stove tops all week long, being replenished and enjoyed constantly;
- times when money was tighter, and family banded together to make the season special for one another in less lavish, but more heartfelt, ways;
- Christmas mingles, candlelit services, and celebrations;
- Board game marathons and extended time with friends and neighbours;
- Uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, and cousins galore piling into cozy living rooms and migrating between houses;
- Spontaneous living room caroling and planned devotional time honouring our Saviour each Christmas morning.

In short - he grew up in a Christmas movie!  I frequently roll my eyes at him and write him off as a hopeless romantic - not just around this time of year, but pretty much on a weekly basis.  His version of Christmas actually freaks me out a little bit.  People - everywhere?  Unplanned events - all the time?  Noise and chaos and improvisation?  

 Christmas for me was very different as an only child of financially well-off parents that were not involved in social circles, and with no extended family that was close.  Occasionally, we would not even bother to celebrate Christmas (sometimes because of the hassle and for a while because we did not want to Christianize an originally pagan holiday - you do know Jesus wasn't actually born in December, right?).  Decorating and present buying was a thing of beauty - literally.  My mom is an amazing interior decorator.  Our home, when we decorated, looked like it came right out of a magazine cover photo.  We would take turns so that I, as a child with no concept of matching or decorating, could have a "turn" at the tree every other year.  One year my mom would do it, and it looked like Martha Stewart had visited.  The next year, every rainbow ornament I could get my hands on hung off of our tree haphazardly.  

Fast forward a number of years, and here Nick and I are married.  Nick is trying to convince me to decorate the house when I know that we're not even going to BE here for Christmas.  And I am telling Nick that he absolutely cannot put two bird ornaments side by side on the tree so that they are "him and me kissing" because you need to spread them out EVENLY.  Nick is falling into the joy of the season, and I am frantically making lists of each thing I still have to do - buying presents, getting cookie ingredients, making cookies, wrapping presents - check, check, check off my list they go.  And I stopped to think, why are we SO different?  But then I realized that we're not really.  We're both just living out our family traditions, which over the years inevitably became our own.  

 This got me thinking even more.  What do I want our kids to be like?  How will they view things like Christmas and family, hospitality and tradition?  Will they be "hopeless romantics" like their dad, or will they be a one-man army of organization like their mom?  I realized what a huge role we as eventual parents (God willing) will play in that.  I cannot fake being a free spirit any more than Nick can fake being organized.  I will still move that ornament an inch to the left when Nick is not looking, and he will still miss at least something on any to-do list.  

But... I'll let you in on a little secret.  I WANT to be more like Nick.  I need a little bit of romanticism in my life.  I want to not care about decorating perfection.  I want to be okay with having lots of people over in a less than perfect home.  I want to WANT to decorate even if it's just for a short time.  I want to have those warm fuzzy feelings at certain times of the year.  And more than that, I want these things for my future family as well.  Christmas is a perfect opportunity for type-A personalities to lose 10 pounds before Christmas due to stress.  So many things to keep track of.  So many things to organize.  So much "extra" crammed into an already full and busy life.  But it's also a perfect opportunity to let go.  To be a little messy.  To actually slow down (as difficult as that sounds).  So, I will learn.  Slowly, gradually, and with God's help (and okay, at least one or two to-do lists), I will learn.

 I will learn to wrap my presents in non-matching wrapping paper once in a while.  (In fact, I did one present in each colour this year, and you know what?  That little girl part of me that decked out the tree with every spectrum of colour she could fit on it perked up a little bit as she surveyed the finished product).  I will learn to remember how good it feels to look around at a fully decorated house, even when there is no one there to appreciate it on Christmas day.  I will learn to enjoy seeing my entire living room carpet completely covered in wrapping paper and ribbons (before I clean it all up and enjoy that, too!).  And I will learn to see traditions as memories to cherish that will keep me company in my old age rather than inconveniences to my tightly run schedule.  And hopefully, as I learn, I will one day also teach.  Because as beautiful and "stress free" as those magazine Christmases are, when you actually succeed in living one out, it lives you a little bit empty inside.  

There's a small part deep down that can only truly be filled with a little bit of noise, a little bit of chaos and a little bit of improvisation.  And there's a bigger part inside that can only be filled by people.  Whether it's friends, family, or strangers, Christmas just isn't the same when you don't share it.  Even if you have to go and look for someone to share it with because you don't have a "Christmas movie" family in your back pocket.  And there's the biggest part of all that only Jesus can fill.   Sure, you couldn't find him in a stable in December all those years ago.  Sure, as Christians, we may have high-jacked an existing "pagan" holiday, and even get a little too caught up in all the commercialism that goes along with it.  But I know where you can find Him.  You can find Him in the hearts of people as they come together to love each other.  You can find Him in the generosity of people as they reach out to those in need this time of year.  You can find Him in the imperfections,  because those are His favourite.  You can find him in the broken.  You can find Him in the unplanned.  You can find Him in the redemption of burnt out relationships rekindled.  And you can find Him waiting behind you with open arms when Christmas doesn't turn out to be all it's supposed to be.  Because you know what?  I think Jesus is a little bit of a hopeless romantic, too.  And He's hopelessly in love with each one of us.  That's why He came to be in that less-than-perfect Christmas stable in the first place all those years ago, in whatever month it actually was.


Nicholas Froese said...

I love this woman, who is she? Will she marry me? She seems like she would beautiful..

Paraphrase said...

Ah my husband, king of the classic typos. I am pretty sure it's a complement nonetheless?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...