“Wanna come over for Christmas dinner? We’re having frozen lasagna. Bring a fork.”
That’s the text I’ll send out next year. This year was…harder than that.
My heart is still racing from the stress of the day. Feet ache like I ran a marathon in high heels. But I’m ending the day with peace and joy in my heart. I just wish I’d fought for those fruits throughout the day. There’s good news, though. His mercies are new every day, and tomorrow He will provide new opportunities. Especially in our house, because we aren’t even having our traditional Christmas celebration until then!
There’s so much to learn from days like today, and I don’t think I’m the only one who keeps missing the point. Over this season I’ve had very low standards, and somehow they’re still too high. I didn’t bother sending Christmas cards (yet again) because we didn’t get around to getting cute pictures of the girls. And let’s face it, the pictures wouldn’t have looked good anyway because I don’t iron their clothes.
Every year my dad brings me a box of stuff he doesn’t need, and that includes those greeting cards random companies send out. Every year I tell him I don’t need them, but they end up shoved in a corner of the garage. And every year, they inevitably get rescued from the recycling bin at the last minute, creases unbent as I include them with a haphazardly arranged gift or two. This year I couldn’t even find matching envelopes so just sort of folded some cards smaller and shoved them at someone. I’m pretty sure it would have been better to recycle them. Anyway, even with standards as low as this, it’s nearly impossible to excel. And I mean, could I possibly do even less and still be a good representative for Christ? (Well, yes, but only because of grace)
As the hostess for holidays like today, there were lots of different roles for me. How can I ever do them all well?
The expectation of loving everyone well would mean I would excel in:
- Being present
- Putting deodorant on (hahahaha, it’s late, and I’m more hilarious as the night goes on). But really, did I brush my teeth today?
- Celebrating: Immanuel, God with us, who lowered Himself from total deity to become a human, beginning as a baby, to rescue all of us evildoers from our own sin and the punishments we deserve. He’s the reason we are here, and the reason we call this a holy day at all.
To be honest, seeing this list all written out makes it look much easier than it felt today. At a few points I knew it was too much. Too much to please everyone, too much to choose whose feelings or desires to forsake for the sake of my own sanity. I told myself, as I do each year, that we would figure out simpler ways to celebrate Christmas for future years. And I tried to block out the memory that I tried that one last year and hurt so many feelings someone brought it up again yesterday-363 days later!
A few solutions that sound appealing:
- Next year we rent a cabin without electricity, phones, or any noise. Just light a candle, eat some tree bark (that someone else harvests), and read the Bible.
- Have a party in the car. Whoever fits is welcome. It’ll be too crowded for anyone to notice it’s dirty, and my feet won’t hurt since I’ll be forced to sit.
- Serve non-perishable food items that can be eaten at any time of day and set them up as a buffet for the entire day’s food. We’d have canned fruit cocktail, Spam, muffins that we’d call “cupcakes” after noon… and…are those gas station breakfast sandwiches considered “perishable”?
Still this list is incomplete, there must be more. He brought me out of the insanity to His peace, and I need to stay there. To dwell in His love. It’s more than the logistics of swapping a homemade roast beef for a frozen lasagna. It’s swapping the Martha outlook to be more of a Mary.
Yaacov reminded me of this earlier, when I was in the midst of the pathetic breakdown we all knew was coming. I get so annoyed by the reference to those sisters. Martha was the one who was doing a good job taking care of the house so Jesus could be comfortable, and Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and ignore the hospitality stuff. But I argue that it’s less applicable this day and age, because Jesus isn’t sitting in my living room, it’s people who are there to be served. Jesus came to serve, so I don’t see it as the same thing.
“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Yes, I get that my frustration with it is my pride arguing that I want to do things my way.
So, tomorrow, I’m celebrating that Jesus came to this world with my family. Just call me “Mary”, because I’ll be the one at His feet. I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m pretty sure it’ll include the kids eating candy for breakfast, someone picking up Chick Fil A for lunch (a definite perk of postponing Christmas should mean that it’ll be open!), and perhaps we’ll start that tradition of consuming the extra large Stouffer’s frozen lasagnas for dinner. If I’m too preoccupied with the Word to put on deodorant, no one will blame me because I’ll still send a sweet incense offering up to Him…plus I’ll smell great because of the time I’ll have to spend with Naomi playing in her new Snowman bubble bath. It might not be much like the first Christmas, but we’ll enjoy our freedom from the law and punishments we deserve because of that very day.