Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unwrapping Christmas

Christmas Eve was joy and laughter. The day began with brilliant blue skies and crisp white snow. And of course, we couldn't get outside fast enough. We walked and shoveled, while giggling over snowballs. And for just a little while, time stilled.

It's a marvelous thing, this Christmas joy. Even in the darkest, the light breaks through, transforming what was once dark and dreary to glory and light. So we rejoiced. We played.

I love Christmas Eve, with its collision of joyful noise and holy reverence. We stayed lazy through the day, watching movies while I baked bread for Christmas morning. As the light faded and the skies grew dim, we quieted. The blankets of snow ushered in a hush. We pulled on the dress clothes, adding perfume and the red lipstick that only comes out on fancy occasions.

We traded our joyful noise for a silent night.

We sang songs of praise for this baby king; born to save, born to die.

Christmas morning was quiet, if not impatient, prayers and candles before the flurry of wrapping paper and squeals of joy. We lazed in our pajamas most of the day, we watched the snow fall. And I've got to tell you that snow falling on Christmas morning has been prayer of mine all month long. He is so good to give us such good gifts, even the simple ones. The cousins played while Christmas movies lent us background noise. Some of us napped, some of us hid away in bedrooms with new books. And one of us wished for a snow free street, just for a minute to try out her new bike. Yes, that was me, and that pearlescent turquoise cruiser is all mine. Isn't she beautiful? I may have shed a few tears when I saw her. I think she needs a name, maybe Mabel? What do you think?

And later we did get dressed and I tackled the most nerve wracking culinary moment of my life, the Christmas roast. This one gave me nightmares, really it did. I was so nervous about it not turning out, being over done, being under done, or being just about terrible and inedible. But it wasn't. It was perfection, that took a full forty minutes longer to cook. But perfection just the same. Why haven't I done this earlier? It was so easy. The family joined us for dinner, and all was right with the world.
All of the preparation, all of the planning, all of it comes down to this. One day of celebration, one day of commemoration for the Savior. And now that it's all done I am reminding myself of the words spoken by dear Ebeneezer, "I will honor Christmas in my heart and keep it all year." It's not just one day, it should be a year long attitude. Honoring this baby King, looking to Easter and keeping Christmas. I might not put the nativity away after all. I want to keep Christmas close, remember its meaning and allow it to change the way I am. Not just on one day, but the 364 as well.

So these last few days have found us in a mix up of quiet reflection and loud joy. We are playing in the snow while it stays, and then we sit and watch it sparkle from the comfort of the couch. Nestled with hot chocolate and covered in blankets we breath deep of his great gift that Christmas brings. And then I am fighting the urge to take down the dying Christmas tree, anyone else tired of sweeping up evergreen needles?

I've cleaned a bit, getting ready for incoming family and Christmas morning number two, but I've been doing it with a quiet spirit. I'm more reflective this year than ever, maybe I am growing up after all, or maybe I have just found that Christmas needs to be unwrapped daily. It's a gift that came for cold Thursday mornings just as much as for silent candle light Christmas Eve nights. It came in the middle of mess and chaos, and so it's fitting to unwrap it in the midst of our mess and chaos. Born in a messy barn, Jesus is at home in our mess if we let him in. That is why I daily unwrap his Christmas gift, in the middle of rowdy joy and right at the moment of the deepest of despair.

Christmas is not over, Christ with us is just beginning. I will unwrap it again today, in the middle of family and noise and vacuums and grocery stores. Emmanuel, Christ with us, all year long.

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