This post comes from a Christmas Letter written 8 years ago when we were in the THICK of Calendar Overload.
Noah (7) yelled wildly from our downstairs family room, “I found him. I found him!”
“Who?” I hollered back.
Noah jumped up the stairs and ran into the kitchen. With all the fanfare he could muster he proudly announced, “Jesus” with a whirl of his arm and a twirl of his body. We had been looking for HIM all month.
I laughed out loud. It was December 22 and it had been a long month. It was busy—way too busy and Jesus seemed nowhere to be found. Our large, hand-made living room manger remained empty all month. (We couldn’t find the doll that had always been a perfect fit.) My heart, too, became increasingly empty through the incessantly long days and short nights of December. Chaos reigned. Quiet was nowhere to be found. Maybe Jesus would be part of our Christmas celebration after all.
Last December we entered 21st century living and the calendar over-load it creates. For the first time ever, we had multiple children in multiple activities: Boy Scouts, band, choir, basketball, school Christmas programs and the growing list of social gatherings for our “new” teenagers. Ugh!
I was living for 8:30 pm on Thursday, December 21. Although there was still one day of school left, the madness was going to be over. I had plans for that night! It involved quiet, Christmas tree lights and me hunkered down on the couch with a steaming mug of spiced licorice tea.
Instead, crisis erupted at 8:22 and by 9:42 pm Sam and I were on our way to the ER. We didn’t get home until 5 the next morning. Sam would mend. I was not so sure I would survive. I was winded, weary and sinking fast. Finding Jesus that afternoon was exactly what I needed.
Jesus changes things. He does. He introduces me to a quiet that replaces my inner chaos. He infuses hope into my healing. He reveals a purpose for my pain. Our baby-doll Jesus had been there all along, just hidden. Jesus (the real one) had been there, too, amidst the madness of December. He, too, was buried beneath an avalanche of relentless demands and distractions.
Will this Christmas be any different? There are no easy answers, but I am wrestling with the notion that my “yeses” to the good things of Christmas may translate into a “no” to the God things of Christmas.
If you’re like me, we all could use some prayers on this one. It’s not easy. Guilt loves to rear its ugly head. (You know, the “gotta bake, buy, wrap and run” jingle that unmercifully rages through our hearts and minds.) But guilt threatens the Gift. When guilt wins, Jesus remains boxed up, neglected and we travel through yet another Christmas depleted, empty and poor.
It’s a far cry from why He came.