It’s Not Over Yet (and other things to remember about Christmas)

Today is December 28, the fourth day of Christmas.  That’s right.  Not the fourth day after Christmas.  The fourth day of Christmas.  My children know this because I talk about it with them every year.  The tree is still up.  I’m still playing Christmas carols around the house.  And we are definitely still feasting.

But even with all of this, I  sometimes a struggle to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas very well.  I know that we should.  And we try.  We really do.  But, as much as I try to be in the world yet not of the world, when it comes to the biggest holiday of the year, it’s hard to fight  mainstream thinking.  It’s hard stay in Christmas mode when our culture has,literally and figuratively speaking, kicked the Christmas tree to the curb.  Part of the problem is that we have lost site of some important truths about Christmas.  So, like I do when something is bothering me, I think I’ll just make a list.  Here is what I think we (I) need to remember about Christmas:

  • Christmas did not begin the day after Thanksgiving.  The weeks before Christmas, beginning the first Sunday after Thanksgiving, are not the Christmas season, they are the season of Advent – a time of prayerful preparation for the coming of the Lord.  Make no mistake.  Despite the fact that the Best Buy sales clerk won’t say Merry Christmas, there is no war on Christmas.  The war is on Advent, and the merchants are winning.  If we are convinced that the sign of Christmas spirit is how our shopping experience plays out, they’ve already won.
  • Santa Claus is real.  His real name is Saint Nicholas.  In his time he gave people generous gifts, and we continue to be his helpers as a way of celebrating the ultimate gift of our Savior.  Oh! And he also once punched a heretic in the face.  Nicholas-Icon-Meme-1
  • Christmas is not all about the presents, but it is a little about the presents.  A lot of Christians complain because Christmas has become too commercial.  And there is a lot of truth to that.  But we give gifts to one another out of love.  A well-thought out gift doesn’t isn’t just a token.  It’s a way of saying, “I get you.  I know you and I knew you’d like this.” Or.  “I want you to be pleased and since I didn’t know what to buy you, here’s a gift card.”  Either way, giving gift giving isn’t opposed the to Christmas spirit.  It is a part of the Christmas spirit.  Sometimes in our over-merchandised culture, Christmas presents get a bad wrap (pun intended).  But they are an important part of celebrating the season.  God gave us this gift of His Son because He loves us.  We give each other new sweaters, bathrobes, and toys for the same reason.
  • Christmas lasts for 12 Days, but the joy of Christmas lasts forever.  As I’ve said, I think it’s important to try to honor Christmas as a season.  God becoming a man certainly deserves an extended celebration.  The birth of Jesus is cause for tremendous joy, and joy is expressed through feasting, singing, fellowship, and gift-giving.  But some time amidst all the Christmas revelry, it is important to stop and do as Mary did and ponder these things.  God became a man so that we could know God.  It’s an incredible mystery.  As Scott Hahn put it in his book Joy to the World: How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (and still does)

No human could have invented the triune God…No human mind could have conceived of a God who is love and who loves us as if we were Gods.  No human mind, unaided by angels, could have dreamt up Christmas.

From my family to yours, Charming Readers, Merry Christmas!

Confessions · Life with Kids

What I Really Want for Christmas (a mom’s list)

For weeks now my kids have been asking me what I want for Christmas.  And I have said the thing that I am supposed to say, that I always say –  I don’t need anything.  I just want  all of my children to be happy and healthy.  It’s true.  I don’t need anything.  And I do want my children to be happy and healthy.  But they are good children, so no matter how often I say that I really don’t need anything, they will pool their money and buy me a new bathrobe or nightgown, or a maybe well-intentioned kitchen gadget.  And I’ll be grateful because I know they are buying me presents because they love me and want to show me that they care.

But here’s the thing.  I’m lying. I don’t just want healthy happy kids. Sure that’s the most important thing, but there are a few things that I desperately want.  I want ’em real bad.  Perhaps it’s not too late to give my family my real Christmas list…

  • I want everyone to lick or wipe the peanut butter off the spoon before dropping it in the sink.  Better yet, lick it off and drop it in the dishwasher.
  • I want to never hear the words. SHOTGUN! again.
  • I want to never open the cabinet and find a box with approximately two tablespoons of cereal left in it.
  • I want a vehicle free of dead french fries and straw wrappers.
  • I want all the socks in whole world (or at least in my house) to find and keep their forever mate.
  • I want counter tops free from crumbs.
  • I want well-fed dogs and chickens and livestock.  And I want to eliminate the phrase Did you feed the….  from my vocabulary.
  • I want to stop pretending that the little flecks of green in the pasta are seasonings.  It’s spinach, ya’ll.  Okay.  It’s spinach.  It has always been spinach.
  • I want to sit down with my coffee or my computer or my book for more than five minutes at time before someone says, “Hey Mamma!  Will you…”
  • I want to always be able to find a pen.  And my scissors.  And the duck tape.  Seriously.  Who keeps running off with the duck tape?
  • I want to stop repeating myself.
  • I want to stop repeating myself.
  • I want a TV show that comes on during primetime that I can watch with my whole family and that does not involve wildlife or people wearing cammo – and that will not be interrupted by commercials for tampons, Viagra, or Victoria’s Secret.
  • I want to learn how to use the television remote control, and I want the kids to forget how to use the television remote control.
  • I want, just now and then, to arrive at church with a relaxed, well-dressed family at least 15 minutes early.
  • I want to pray more as a family.
  • I want to play more as a family.
  • I want to sit down to dinner more often.
  • I want to cook from scratch, and I want someone else to clean the kitchen.
  • I want more nights at home with my family and fewer nights all going in different directions.
  • I want to slow down time.

Obviously, some of the things on my list are within my family’s power to give me and some are not.  But in the end, I know I will get bathrobe or a nightgown or a kitchen gadget.  And that’s okay.  Because even though whatever I get might not come with a life-time supply of  spotless kitchens or perfectly matched socks, it will come with love. And I really could use a new bathrobe.

My Greatest Gifts!
My Greatest Gifts!

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