I’ve tried to slowly dip my toes into the Christmas thing this year. It’s been more low key- less Christmas music, less crafting and cookie making, less talk about Christmas morning excitement. It’s an understated, mindful Christmas season.
This year I dreaded decorating for Christmas- as much due to the inevitable battles over Christmas decor with the busy toddler as anything else!I am grateful that I didn’t have to decorate with our decorations this year, with our brokeness so fresh. Our tree, like my Mom’s, isn’t filled with pretty, matching ornaments. It’s full of ornaments with memories and meaning attached: vacation souvenirs, photos of pets, reminders of adventures, tiny baby fingerprints. Each and every ornament has a story. This year, I sat in the loft listening to my Mom tell the stories behind her ornaments she handed them to children to hang on the tree. I felt such relief that I don’t have to relive all those memories of our family this year.
This is the blessing of living with my parents while we heal. My children get this part of the holiday that I can’t give them. When it’s too much for me, I can fall back while their grandparents step in. They’ve saved more of their holiday than I could have alone.
The next hurdle to cross was Advent. I wasn’t sure I could do it. But in the end, the children couldn’t do without it. I did start late, letting us adjust to the Christmas decor and all the feelings that came with it. Like everything else, we’ve kept it understated, just a simple study of the scriptures leading up to Christ’s birth. It’s been worth the effort, giving the kids a safe place to ask questions and express their feelings.
In the quiet of the candles, we’ve had some big discussions about God’s will, our sin, and God’s grace. My favorite lesson reminded us of Mary’s hardship. It’s so easy to think of her as she looks in the nativity scenes- beautiful, serene, even happy. But, really the announcement that she’d be having a baby, wasn’t an easy thing. It didn’t make her life wonderful. She’d be considered immoral, she’d travel 9 months pregnant, and give birth in a barn far away from her home and family. Yet, her immediate answer was, “I am the servant of the Lord.” Even after Jesus’ birth, her life wasn’t easy! She had to move to a foreign country so her child wouldn’t be killed, only to watch him as an adult be persecuted and killed as a criminal.
My children are learning young the reality that God doesn’t promise an easy life just because we have faith. But, He will be with us. We will never walk alone. And He does have a plan, if we will just trust Him.
We’re seeing the Christmas story in a new light this year.