When the Picture Perfect Christmas isn’t

I love the Christmas season.

The lights, decorations, music and focus on Christ is a celebration to my soul that lasts from the day after Thanksgiving until the New Year.

I get up in the mornings, turn on soft Christmas music, sit by the light of the tree and with only a glow from the lamp, spend time reading scripture as I try to catch a breather from the parties, decorating and shopping to take time to be still and reflect.

This year, it means sitting in an unfinished downstairs with sawdust, tools and disarray in my view.

Another year it meant stopping the celebration to bury and grieve a beloved family member.

I recall more than a few Christmases when there was no extended family around at all to celebrate with.

Those are the times when the Christmas card scenes are far from view and I am reminded that there is no set rule for what Christmas should look like.

No matter how hard I try, perfect is not going to happen at Christmas, so to enjoy it, I must learn to adjust.

Over the years , I have come to see that life doesn’t stop just because Christmas is here but neither does Christmas have to stop when life doesn’t cooperate with the picture in my mind.

I fondly remember a Christmas when we lived in Salina, Ks and once again we were in a house remodel (did I mention that my husband should have his own HGTV special?)

Anyway, this particular Christmas season, we were restoring an old house that had been built in 1884.

It was a sweet Queen Anne with all the feels and we were on a mission to transform her into the beauty that she deserved to be.

The problem was that like all of our housing projects, this house remodel had to fit in around jobs, people and other higher priorities.  Let’s just say it wasn’t getting finished in stellar time.

Being new to the neighborhood and wanting to be hospitable, we decided on this particular year to go for it anyway and do just that!

We made up cards and promptly invited our neighbors to an open house. We announced that everyone could drop in and stop by for a little Christmas cheer, get acquainted with one another, enjoy a short sip of cider, hot chocolate and some homemade goodies.

Up until the very day of the event, I put myself full force into spiffing up the house in some sort of cross between shabby chic, industrial and “Little House on the Prairie”.

What else can one do when the dining walls have been taken down to the studs?

The day came for the party and surprisingly, almost all of our neighbors on the block showed up!

Not only did they show up, they got babysitters, stayed and visited for the whole time!

This was no drop in, open house, but clearly a group of people enjoying each other despite the fact that I had not an ounce of alcohol or “House Beautiful” to offer them!

As the evening wore on, there was no shortage of laughter, joy and conversation mingling into the various backgrounds and diversity of people who had accumulated in our seriously, very humble home.

After they had left, Rick and I marveled at the turnout, the fun and the fact that we had nothing more to provide them with other than good old hospitality and an open door.

Is this not what the whole Christmas story is about?

Imperfect circumstances.

Jesus, the perfect, born to a human.

A virgin. In a stable with smelly animals. With a humble carpenter as a father.

This is what I love about Him.

He is hospitable and His door is open to everyone.

He understands that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world and yet He loves us.

Because He entered this imperfect world and made an eternal impact, I somehow can find a way to work with it too, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Christmas has and always will be, not about what surrounds us but about what lives within us or for that matter who lives within us.

It never has been about the image we want to portray but rather His image being displayed alive and well in this world and most importantly in our very own lives.

And  it just doesn’t get any more perfect than that.













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