Prince Charming plugged in our Christmas lights two days ago. Yep. That’s all he had to do. Plug them into the outlet. Why? Because they were still draped on the house from last year.
That’s right. We’re those neighbors…
But I will say, our lights were fabulously easy to put up this week. You know you’ve thought about it once or twice—the beauty of just plugging them in every year instead of lugging boxes out of the attic. Don’t worry. You’re secret’s safe with me.
We never set out to keep the twinkling strands strung across the eaves all this time. It just sorta—happened. In truth, their unwillingness to disappear frustrated me until about June. Every day I drove up to the house, I only saw those ridiculous lights. I was embarrassed. Really? Who leaves their Christmas lights up all year? Apparently there are people.
At least we unplugged them mid-January.
By September I realized the insanity of taking them down only to put them back up three months later. So. They stayed. And I began to smile at them. They became a symbol—my hint at rebellion.
A rebellion against expectations. The expectations of a perfect image. A perfect home. A perfect family. A perfect life. And I will tell you. Rebellion against those expectations? Well, it just feels good.
Because here’s the secret—I’m not perfect. And the more I’m okay with that, the more grace fills up my soul. But sometimes, it’s hard to be okay with the imperfect.
I feel like, especially this time of year, we are surrounded by expectations we just can’t meet. Yet we try. Oh how desperately we scrap and claw our way through the Christmas season attempting to make it just right. Perfect.
We believe we must have beautifully handmade gifts for teachers and neighbors straight from the boards of Pinterest. Our Christmas décor must rival the picture-ready homes from Southern Living or Real Simple. Gift wrap must flawlessly coordinate with ribbons and tags. Our kitchens must produce elegant appetizers and desserts for parties.
We must do. We must do. We must do.
Our expectations suck the very life and joy out of Christmas. The constant striving for perfection this time of year stops us from breathing in the fragrance of a simple manger. We are left gasping. In. out. in. out. in. out.
What if I just bought the cheap wrapping paper and foil stick-on bows? Or brought plates and napkins to my daughter’s Christmas party? Or let my children decorate the tree, even if all the ornaments stayed in one circle at their eye-level? Or purchased $5 Starbucks gift cards for teachers because that might be all I can do this year?
None of these things ever seems good enough. And yet…
When will I realize God’s expectations are always different from my own? And Christmas has never been about meeting my expectations.
Because who would have expected the Creator of the heavens and earth to come so low we meet Him in a manger? A king, born amongst the animals. Emmanuel, greeted by the lowing of cattle and the poverty of shepherds. The Savior, born in the quiet. The stillness.
And He’s still found in the quiet. The stillness. The places we stop doing. The places we can just be.
If this season meets all of my expectations, I may just miss the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. And then? I will have missed Christmas.
God doesn’t expect our Christmas to be perfect. He’s already made it so.