Christmas is a time for memories. I have all the Christmas memories stored up from the past 36 Years. It’s not always the things that we think are so important that we remember years later is it? A funny thing is I don’t remember all the presents and stuff I got even though I find myself stressing about buying the perfect gifts for people. Of course, some memories are so special and they capture precious loved ones who are no longer here. So they are bittersweet. Joy with the sting of tears.
I want to create the happiest of Christmas memories for me and my family. The ‘putting up the tree day’ is one I want to make perfect. No arguing, no stress. I want smiling children singing Christmas carols on the way to pick their new decorations. I want my husband to take my hand and to want to sing along with a Christmas jumper on. I want the most beautiful, perfectly straight tree with no baldly bits and no needles dropping. I want no bickering or controlling people when putting on the baubles and lights. I want the lights to work. I want to be able to find all my decorations and none to be broken. I want no vomiting children.
So let me tell you about last weekend; my perfect ‘tree putting up day’. It involved a trip to the garden centre singing Christmas songs - tick - (I may have forced my kids to sing loud in car by telling them if they didn’t sing I wouldn’t get them a decoration or a dominos pizza.) Only a slight argument arose when two of my boys wanted to pick the same decoration. This happens every year. Back to the house where Ryan couldn’t find the decoration box. I tried so hard not to blame him as he was the one who last touched it (I don’t go in the attic) but i did a little bit of blaming and sulking. Only shed a few tears as I thought he had chucked the box out inadvertently. I almost spiralled downwards. It contained a few decorations from my childhood- memories of times gone by I wanted to hold onto. This is when God whispered to me - that box is not what Christmas is all about.
Then we went to buy more lights—back on track and happy again and bingo a found box of missing decorations. Tick. Tree decorated albeit a few hours later than expected. Dominos pizza consumed, lovely Christmas movie on. Tick. That was all the bits within my control. Then the tummy aches began. Zac and Ethan were lying on the floor holding there stomachs. This was not in my ‘putting up the tree day’ perfect plan. Then the vomiting started. I’ve cleaned up a lot of vomit but this night was a whole new level. Up half the night cleaning children, mattresses, and walls . Musical beds ensued, 2:00am showers, boil washes and bleach. Pillows and pyjamas chucked in the bin.
This was out with my control. I couldn’t stop the vomiting children and my perfect evening was over. The memory would be ruined, but you know what? God was there. He was there amongst it all whispering to me that I don’t meet God in my memories I meet him in the present and as precious as they are I firmly believe the best is yet to come. And Christmas isn’t about things it’s about Jesus, my saviour, humbling himself and coming to earth as a helpless little baby. Gurgling and wriggling, the creator of all reduced himself to the smallest and most helpless of beings. He really did become Emmanuel; God with us. And that first Christmas was perfect but it wasn’t. You know what I mean? I think of a 15 year old Mary and the controlling part of my brain kicks in and as a mother I would have wanted the perfect night for Jesus to be born. (She would have had a water birth with candles and whale music) I would have wanted to create the perfect environment for such a special birth so I could tell him about it. But there was no room for him. There was no cot, he wasn’t born in a beautiful place. There were animals and smells and yet it was perfect wasn’t it? Our Lords birth was perfect. In amongst the chaos was the beauty of it. Light breaking through in the darkness. And because of this incarnation I can be sure Jesus totally gets the vomit thing. He’s literally been here. He understands. And I praise him because in amongst the chaos I choose to cling onto the precious moments of which there were and will be many. I will treasure them in my heart. And I will teach my children about the baby who is my king who was rejected by many but was actually perfect.
And I will teach them that even when things go wrong there is still beauty. And even when we lose something precious or we are a bit broken it’s still ok. We are still invited to join in the celebrations anyway. He loves us despite it all. And so I ask myself, “Why the big reaction? Why was I so desperate for my decorations not to be lost or broken? Why the striving for perfection? “ I realised that’s what I want for my kids. For them to be able to find all their memories and none to be broken. I want them to never get lost but the truth is at some point we all lose our way and we are all a little broken. We all find ourselves walking in darkness. But that’s why he came. He knew this was the case. He came to rescue us and there will come a time we all need to let go of our pride and admit we need a saviour. We need a light in our darkness. And we can’t save ourselves and I realised I can’t save my kids. We all need to make the choice to come to the manger and bow down.
So this Christmas in amongst the chaos and the non perfect bits remember that there is light in the darkness. Remember Jesus’ birth and the unlikely imperfect bits that we now remember as precious. He’s in it all if we let him be. Let’s ask him to be our light this Christmas and when things don’t go to plan let’s remember the whole reason why we celebrate and laugh anyway. Choosing joy this Christmas. And let’s not get too busy creating the perfect Christmas that we forget to kneel down before the manger and just adore him.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.