Every year when December rolls around, I dream of a chaos-free trip to pick out the Christmas tree, a mess-less kitchen full of Christmas cookies, and every night having a planned activity consisting of caroling, visiting the live nativity or watching a Christmas movie.
Instead, last year, my baby had to use a nebulizer for all of December; our dog got hit and my husband’s Grandpa was hospitalized the week before Christmas; our babysitter cancelled; and I got some virus from my Grandma’s jello that my little cousins had been sticking their fingers in all day.
I was planning a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Instead, I felt like I got jipped – I was left with Cousin Eddie, a full sewer, and a jelly-of-the-month club membership.
Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. I just think we put too much pressure on ourselves, especially as moms, to make all these memories and buy all these present for our kids, on top of the Oreo balls and homemade teacher’s gifts we just have to make.
And when it’s all over? We still have the gloom of winter ahead of us, even when the clamor of the new toys stops and the Christmas lights get shoved back in the box.
Our kids are on to the next thing. No matter how excited they were on Christmas morning, when they return to school, there will always be one kid in their class who get something that’s newer, bigger, or more exciting.
And then, a mere week later, there are New Year’s resolutions to be made. No pressure, right? This year, I resolved to thought about working on being more punctual. It’s not even the middle of January, and like all those unused gym memberships, my ‘winning’ streak is about as hot as the weather.
If we’re not careful, the whole season can feel like a great big fail. We forget that all of the decorating, buying, baking and anticipating are really just means to an end. An end that just may force you to think very negative thoughts about why your husband won’t just take out all the trash full of wrapping paper already!
I have to wonder if maybe Mary felt the same way. While the Bible doesn’t give many details about Jesus’ birth, she surely wasn’t spared the inevitable weight gain, mesh underwear and cracked nipples that come along with a new baby.
But one of the few things God’ word does tell us about the mother of Jesus? That she treasured all of these things and pondered them in her heart.
Although it can be a letdown to have the extended family leave, put away the pretty decorations, return to a routine and step on the scale, Mary got it right. In the midst of her circumstances – which only a short time later would have her fleeing for her son’s life to escape the murderous plot of a jealous king – she was joyful.
We haven’t taken our (very real, but can’t possibly still be alive) Christmas tree down yet. Mostly because I’m too busy catching up on Netflix, eating stale red and green cookies and dreaming of sunshine. But last night, my three-year-old said out of the blue “I want to keep our tree forever, because it means worshiping God.”
For the time being, she gets it, in spite of me and my expectations. It’s that joy – the same joy Mary treasured – that we can keep with us, long after we’ve flipped the pages to a new calendar year. I’d much rather have joy as the gift that keeps giving the whole year instead of the jelly of the month, anyways!