This time of year I hear and see endless posts, videos and songs about the meaning of Christmas. Each family has traditions that define their Christmas experience and create the feelings they equate with the holiday season. For my husband James it’s Santa, and Christmas music blasted loud and silly Christmas cartoon movies on TV and copious amounts of eggnog. I was raised with a very different kind of Christmas, I never got into the Santa thing, my mother tells me I was highly suspicious of the man from a very young age. We went to church for Christmas, had family gatherings with what felt like hundreds of cousins running amok, and wrote fun and silly poems razzing each other for the year’s transgressions, and of course Handel’s Messiah playing in the background. Trying to now blend what we both see as “Christmas” for our new little family is fun and sometimes difficult. Especially because my husband happens to be a real life elf. He can live off eggnog and Christmas cookies this time of year and actually used the quote “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” In a serious sentence last week. It cracks me up, and also makes me long for a more classic Christmas experience minus the gimmics and flash. But I think we have found a way to embrace each other’s traditions fairly well. And I caught myself singing “Baby it’s cold outside” at least 4 times this December.
But one person that my mind keeps drifting to this year is Mary. As in Mary Jesus mother. That woman must have had the most amazing amount of hectic mommy guilt and stress that any mother has ever encountered. She was raising the son of God. Can you imagine? I would think if you adopt a child, when things get tough you can think comforting thins like “at least this life is better than the one they would have had”, but raising the son of God? Yeah no… there is no universe where a stressed momma could think she is doing a better job than God. Also the manger scene? It’s played out over and over this time of year and I’m here just picturing myself all raw and vulnerable after giving birth with complete strangers rolling in and me looking around the barnyard thinking it and I look like a disaster. It’s hard enough when you have someone help clean you up and cover your squishy, and destroyed unmentionables with a clean sheet before the relatives arrive to pick up your newborn and gush. I distinctly remembering the strange mix of emotions of wanting to show off my amazing new person that I just made and birthed like a bad ass, and wanting to tell them all to get the hell out do you know what I just went though. Now imagine that in a barn with random strangers showing up. There is a reason God didn’t choose me for a mission like that. But somehow she did it. And then watched her baby go through the very worst and horrible things a man can go through. She had the most epic amount of strength. She knew the real meaning of the season. Grace.
I find it hard to explain the concept of Grace, and honestly until recently I don’t think I really understood it. I remember as a kid thinking that it would make far more sense in my mind to give up your life and die for just one person that you truly love, than for every person for all time. I couldn’t in my child brain fathom him loving each person that much. Maybe becoming a mother of two has helped me grasp the concept. Because to me living knowing there is grace is like shopping with gift cards. It’s just that much better. You don’t have to worry about seeing the Visa bill later, you don’t have to feel guilty for buying something you normally wouldn’t because it’s already paid for, and the purpose is a gift. Not a practical thing. The entire reason we have grace is because we will never be good or holy enough to deserve God, he gave it to us. We get this amazing pre-paid gift without deserving it. We get to try life and screw up royally. It allows us those mommy meltdown days, and we don’t have to wonder if our actions are ruining our eternal future. Because he knew, long before we chucked the milk cup back at the kid and yelled and felt guilty later that we would mess up. That’s why we got our amazing gift card for life. Because he loves us and gives us gifts we don’t deserve. It’s like when you wrap up that cool new toy for your toddler despite the fact that they acted like a little asshole last night. You love them and you want to give them gifts because you see that they have massive beautiful potential despite being kind of screwed up. And that’s how God sees us. He made us, he loves us. And I’m sure he looks down and laughs at us when we act like idiots. Maybe he even has a “Reason’s my creation is crying” blog too.
So happy holidays to you all. I hope that if the magic of Christmas is ruined by a drunk relative, or a kid acting like a complete brat you can at least enjoy your amazing gift of grace and cut yourself some slack. Because he did and he is much smarter than you. Merry Christmas!