Christmas is coming!
I confess that I tend to get as overly excited about the season as a four year-old. It’s true. I love every little detail…the decorating, baking, selecting gifts, hosting parties. I also struggle with what I call “perfection-itis:” an overwhelming desire for the holidays to look as wonderful as a Martha Stewart magazine cover.
A few years ago, I really hit the wall. I had four big dinner parties planned at our home, and I busied myself with decorating, food preparations, and creating crafts and games for the children involved. By the time Christmas finally arrived, I was exhausted, teary and edgy…and more than ready for Christmas to be OVER. Much of the holiday had gone quite well. The house looked beautiful, guests were impressed and the kids had fun. My joy, however, was extinguished, and the heaviness in my soul and body led me to truly understand the phrase, “burnt out.” I’d had enough.
It occurred to me, as I reflected on that Christmas, that I’d been too much of a Martha. Not Martha Stewart, but the Martha that we learn about in Luke Chapter 10. I was preoccupied with the preparations and the look of the holiday, rather than planting myself at Jesus’ feet, and enjoying His company. My penchant for perfection left me depleted, and I missed out on the intimacy of the Christmas message: Emmanuel…God WITH us.
As most moms know, Christmas rarely looks like Martha Stewart had much to do with it. Someone usually comes down with the flu. A new recipe doesn’t turn out quite right. That “little black dress” doesn’t fit quite as nicely as it did last year. A child with special needs can’t participate fully in a program, or has a meltdown in front of unfamiliar relatives. It’s enough to cause the most patient of mothers to call it quits before December 25.
I’m reminded, though, as I read the Christmas story in the book of Luke, that the first Christmas was really not all that pretty. It was a seemingly home-made, makeshift affair. I highly doubt that having contractions while riding a donkey was what Mary had in mind for her first pregnancy. No sisters or mom were there to coach her through labor… no comfy bed and clean sheets to lie on or ice chips to quench her thirst. (no epidurals, either!) Instead, Mary had a pile of straw and a feeding trough, along with an assortment of farm animals and some unfamiliar onlookers. This can’t be what she had envisioned the experience to be.
But Mary had prepared her heart for this season in her life. She made changes in her own attitude and not only accepted, but welcomed her circumstances: “I am the Lord’s servant,” she answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38)
In this series, we’re going to explore several practical ways that churches and parents can create an “accommodating Advent” for children and families affected by disabilities. The best way for us to to accomplish this is by first preparing our hearts like Mary did. Let’s strive for the anticipation, acceptance and adoration that Mary showed us that first Christmas…There were no decorations or perfectly decorated cookies…no rules of etiquette or worries about being a perfect hostess. Just a mom cradling her tiny King.
It was a perfect Christmas.
Coming next in our series: Creating hands-on holidays