We try to make it perfect, this Christmas season. We want beautiful decorations, painted-delightfully cookies, and low stress. We want to be givers of the best gifts evers.
But it rarely turns out that way.
I have a list. A list of wonders since December began. Here it is—my own version of the 12ish Days of Christmas. You can sing along if you want, but it may go better and a little less wonky if you just read it because, well, momma don’t got time to make it rhyme.
- A brand new water heater
- One tree light strand burnt out.
- Another house light strand all black.
- Three store trips made for one batch of brownies.
- Christmas PJs given early for the girl who grew overnight and needed PJs for the church Christmas production.
- Are my jeans getting tighter?
- A dead DVR with all recordings lost. (I know. First world problems. But still…)
- One brand new tire. Did I mention the tire was only 1,000 miles old before it found a nail?
- Nine straight days of not home ‘till after 7:00 pm.
- Over-sugared, over-stimulated, over-tired children.
- A Court Jester whose list for Santa changes daily.
- Mildew rings around the toilet. (Because where would my blog be without those?)
See? Far from perfect. And probably a bit like your Christmas season. While we have visions of Sugar Plum fairies swirling through our dreams, reality dances through our days.
Being human is synonymous with imperfection. We can’t seem to get it right. No matter our striving and straining. Presents are forgotten. Cookies are burned. Lights cease their twinkling. We wonder if Christmas will ever be perfect?
Have you ever wondered at the imperfection of that first Holy Night, that first Noel?
A pregnant girl trudging with her betrothed through the desert. Her mud-caked feet and sand-filled clothing carrying her swollen womb when contractions begin. No midwife mentioned. No birth plan created. Can you imagine?
Just Mary. Just Joseph. Just the animals. Just the poor shepherds.
On the filthy, hay-covered floor of a stable she labors into the night—her body bringing forth the Light of Heaven. The imperfect giving birth to the perfect. She wraps her babe in cloth, laying her God in a splintered manger, not knowing His arms would one day be stretched across a splintered cross.
The Gift of Christmas? We don’t have to be perfect.
The Holiness of Heaven came down to the dirt-filled earth. For the sake of our mistakes, with the Grace of a Savior, beneath the brilliance of stars, Emmanuel was born.
God came down because we can never be perfect. Because we will never get it right on our own. Because we needed Him.
Christmas isn’t perfect because I buy the right gifts or have the best cookies or the most beautiful decorations or plan the most elaborate family outings. Christmas is only ever perfect because of the Cross—not my striving, never my straining.
The babe born in a stable one starry night grew tall only to stumble down a dusty road, beaten and bruised for me, for you.
And when the pressures of the season swell within my soul, burying joy somewhere in the darkness of stress and burdens of imperfection? I breathe deep the splintered manger. Because only there will my Christmas ever be perfect.