Find Jesus Among the Christmas Chaos
by Susan Seiling
Sunday arrived at 7:20 AM with Allison's breath on my face. I opened my eyes a bit and saw her standing over me. Her red hair was messy from the night's sleep, and her smile so sweet it surely must have been staged ... and yet it wasn’t. At least not yet. "Yeah, dolly?"
"Mommy! Asher's awake!"
Thus every day begins with my children, 4 years old and 2.5 years old.
This was no ordinary Sunday, though. We were going to decorate the Christmas tree as a family. It was sure to be a memorable event. Add these elements together for a glimpse at my afternoon:
- Breakable heirloom ornaments, and about 500 yards (okay, I'm exaggerating) of breakable lights.
- Glass bulbs that have no specific value, but present a considerable safety risk, if they were to be scrunched in your hand (like Asher did last year).
- A growing collection of "kid friendly" ornaments (thank God for these!)
- A little boy who has a natural love for anything dangerous or breakable:
- "Asher, don't plug in the Christmas lights!"
- "Asher, don't go into Mommy's box!"
- "Asher, I said, don't go into Mommy's box!"
- "Asher, you ripped it / broke it / ate it!"
- A little girl who is already a perfectionist:
- "Mommy, Asher's not hanging it right!"
- "Mommy, I want to hang the bulb!"
- "Mommy, can I do that?"
- "Mommy, Santa will think this is the best Christmas tree ever!"
- A Mommy who is alternately thinking:
- "Oh my gosh, they almost broke it!"
- "They love my favorite ornament! This is so much fun to share with them!”
- "Don't touch that one! It was grandma's!”
- “Thank God Rich took Asher into the other room ...”
- A Daddy who hangs the prize ornaments - the space shuttle, astronaut and lunar rover. This is remarkably non-dramatic ... the kids tend to save big drama for me.
So, at the end of the day today, I found myself exhausted and wondering why the craziness of decorating a tree is part of our annual tradition. Especially since the normal duties of life still have to happen - cooking dinner, bath time; endless laundry; vacuuming; and, oh yes, working.
But as I walked through the living room that night, I saw the lit Christmas tree and caught a glimpse of what we had actually done. Instead of breakable ornaments and lights to untangle, I saw twinkly lights and magic and the history of 35 Christmases spent on this earth.
I saw my white drummer boy and thought of the same ones on my sisters' trees, in different colors. I saw the bulbs from my grandmother dating back to the 1940s. There were ornaments from Rich's parents, ornaments my mom made, ornaments knit by Allison's great-great-grandmother.
And I remembered the trees of Christmases past - when I was a little girl. My mom never seemed tired, though I'm sure she was. I remember decorating our home to make the magic of Christmas into something we could hold and be a part of.
That's when I became thankful for the energy to decorate my tree; for two children; for a husband who loves me and our children; for the means to have a tree; for Jesus (because with all of the less-than-saintly thoughts I had while decorating, He was there to cut through the chaos, and show me His truth and beauty tonight.)
In the quiet of twinkling lights, Jesus reminded me of the true mystery and magic of Christmas: that God came to earth and made himself one of us. He wasn't a king or a warrior - he was a tiny baby. It’s His birth we remember on Christmas Day. It’s the best reason in the world to decorate and celebrate.