Riding the coattails of my daughter’s post yesterday, I think I’m okay with Christmas…, things are different for all of us this Christmas. With only one big kid left at home, the house is quiet. No sleepy eyes or footy pajamas walking anxiously down the stairs. No sweet cuddles and gentle good mornings. No eager kiddos waiting to hear the go ahead to tear into the presents. I’m enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee, taking the time to process and sit and write a little bit here.
Our youth pastor, Brandon, was holding the door open last night at our Christmas Eve service as we left. He and his wife, Brigette, are a few short months from having their first child. I told him as we walked out to enjoy his last quiet Christmas. Their Christmases will be very different in the future. I’m fairly certain that Joseph and Mary gave some thought to how different their days were turning out to be while on their arduous journey to Bethlehem. What did they even do last December? What did anyone do in the December’s before Jesus? It was just another month. Another day. Another season of waiting for Christmas. I bet on that last December before Christmas they couldn’t have imagined how their next December would be so different. There wasn’t a Christmas until there was a Christ.
The birth of Jesus started a whole new thing that would make everything different for the rest of time.
We only know our Decembers as Christmas. For so many years our Christmas mornings have looked a lot alike. Well, there were a few in there that weren’t… like that time we spent Christmas with several million of our closest friends in Saigon or that one where we traveled back to Singapore from Texas to our quiet condo made for three on Christmas Eve. But for so many years, our Christmases have played out with us spending the Saturday morning before Christmas with my side of the family, Christmas Eve with my husband’s family and Christmas morning at home in our pj’s.
We still went to my parent’s house last weekend but it was even different. Not so many littles anymore, the ones who used to be littles are now grown and having littles so it’s harder for them to travel. My mother in law spends her Christmases in Heaven now and my father in law is in assisted living so we didn’t even get to spend Christmas Eve in their house. I’ve been working for a few months now doing a lot of freelance writing. Without all the kids here to help I have found it more of a challenge than usual to get the house decorated. We put the Christmas lights up on the house two days before Christmas. And we broke a good sweat doing it. We’re having a summertime Christmas in South Texas this year. I’ve thought several times how we might as well be in New Zealand. Ahhh…. that does sound lovely.
This brings me to this Christmas morning. It’s quiet here at the moment. There are fewer presents under the tree. The teenager sleeps in. My husband is putting together our traditional sausage balls for breakfast (which I normally would do days before to have them ready), and I’m writing this while sitting in front of our roaring fireplace with the air conditioner running. We’ll enjoy our traditional Christmas Day taco soup but we won’t stay in our pj’s. We bought movie tickets for this evening and we feel like the other movie goers will appreciate that we showered and put on real clothes.
We’ll get our crazy chaos next weekend when all of the kids, our grandson and their fur babies come in for our Christmas/New Year celebration. I’m so looking forward to that! But this introvert is also enjoying the quiet morning of reflection. When we lived in Singapore, my dear friend Leone, put me on to a phrase that I’ve carried with me, “It’s not bad, it’s just different.” If I think about it too long I’ll tear up at the thought of not getting to see my mother in law again this year. We took our teenager to Zoo Lights this week and my husband commented on how much his mom would have loved it. We all miss her so much. She loved Christmas. It’s strange to think about going to pick up my father in law to bring him over for an hour or so (which is all he’ll want anyway). It’s even strange to think that we’re not packing a suitcase like we did so often while living overseas. This Christmas is not bad, it’s just different. It makes me wonder where in the world we’ll be and what we’ll be doing next Christmas.
It’s okay to be still this year. Even when we are still He is always moving just as He did on that very first Christmas.
I want to be content with it all. With the quiet. With the chaos. With the losses. With the gains. With the hardships. With the victories. I want to be content with the different. I want to hold everything in my hands loosely as gifts that have been given but also gifts not mine to keep.
Merry Christmas, EPFH friends! Whatever you’re doing today, however different or same this Christmas is from Christmases past, remember that we wouldn’t even have a Christmas without Christ. The best gift we’ve been given and the best gift we could give away.
“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the Lord. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.
Be still before the Lord, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.”