Saturday, December 19, 2009
I've discovered a little truth this month. And it may be just the thing to save my sanity this Christmas -- because it's been on its way out.
The directive to "simplify Christmas" is an impossibility.
What would have made this month simpler? Well, I suppose I could have called all my friends and family in November and said, "We're not participating in the festivities this year. Please don't send us any presents, or money for the kids, or invitations to parties. Don't expect Christmas cards with updated photos of the family. Don't expect gifts from us, either. We want to avoid rushing around to get it all done.
"And by all means, don't stop by to visit without calling at least two weeks in advance."
Lately, I've been hearing the message that rushing during Advent is akin to sin, and misses the point of the season. After all, how can we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior, if we're busy checking off our lists -- and trying not to be late to church potlucks?
It's a tough one.
And so, organized types encourage us to start planning earlier, promising that if we just follow their 12-week plan, we won't feel rushed, and we'll have the happiest, most peaceful holiday ever!
Except that life doesn't follow a 12-week plan. Not everyone knows in October whether they'll be able to travel in December -- or whether they'll have custody of their kids on Christmas Day. Life requires you to adjust your plans to accommodate others' plans that you have no control over.
Life sends rainclouds over your leaky roof right before Christmas, leaving you cold and wet, and obliterating your party schedule. Life also sends your neighbor over with a spontaneous invitation to a round of wassail!
Life sends gifts from friends you love, but were too obsessed with trying to simplify to shop for -- and sends you to the last-minute sales to reciprocate.
Christmas is NOT simple. Christmas is complicated.
Was it simple for God to say, "Heck, it's a mess down there, I guess I'll just come down and clean it up myself." Well, maybe to say it. To do it? I think the New Testament shows otherwise.
Was it simple for Mary to accept Gabriel's message that she was going to be an unwed mother? Somehow, I don't think she said, "Sure, I'd be happy to carry God's son. My parents and fiance will understand. No biggie."
Was it simple for Joseph and Mary to get to Bethlehem? No, it was complicated. And they were freakin' exhausted when they got there.
I'm a little tired, too -- probably from staying up too late playing Santa while the children slept. I've checked a lot off my list. I still have to check it twice. I cannot say, "Whew, I'm totally ready for Christmas, nothing left to do except wait."
When there's nothing left to do to prepare our hearts for Christ's coming, He'll already be here.