Thursday, December 15, 2011
You might be expecting that with a title like that, I'm going to be telling you I got some great early Christmas present. Well, I did - but not in the way you are thinking.
You see, I find it so hard to keep my focus on the "reason for the season" during Christmas. So much busy-ness, so many gifts to buy, cookies to bake, house to decorate, family friction to deal with, and parties, parties, parties. I've noticed that I'm not thinking about Baby Jesus while I'm waiting on line at the crowded mall, nor do I feel much of a divine spirit of peace and joy while singing "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" in the car while I'm sitting grumbling about the holiday traffic.
It's hard to experience the real meaning of Christmas in the midst of it all. For me, anyway.
However, about a week ago I went to a local coffeehouse to hear a friend of mine and her group perform. Admission was free. I happened to discover some other friends of mine were there, and they made room at their table for me. The first half of the concert was worship music and songs from the group's CD. The second half was a Christmas Carol sing-a-long. As I sat among friends, I realized it had been a long time since I really, really listened and took to heart the words of the Christmas carols I'd sung hundreds of times. And then I had my Christmas moment. Like the Grinch said, "It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!" Singing songs praising the good news of Jesus' birth, and thinking about how all that the prophets foretold had come to pass, a baby born who came to save us all - appreciating the greatest gift God could give us - His son. And what that means to me. In the famous words of Linus: "That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."
So as you know if you've been reading my blog lately, we currently don't have a Christmas tree (the new one we bought turned out to be defective and we had to un-decorate it and return it. Yeah, I was *so* pondering the real meaning of Christmas during that whole nightmare, NOT! lol...). I got to thinking, I wonder why in the world do we put presents under a pine tree for Christmas anyway?? (YES I KNOW I COULD GOOGLE IT AND FIND OUT but the point is, it's some age-old tradition whose meaning has been long since forgotten.) If anything, wouldn't it make more sense, if we're going to put presents under or around something, to put the presents out for Baby Jesus instead of stick them under a pine tree??
So, although I'm sure we'll still get a tree (don't get me wrong - I love all the fun Christmas traditions just like the next person), I decided that I was going to make a manger to put by the tree, to help us to remember - it's not all about the presents or the tree - it's about Jesus being born! I rather tentatively told my (almost) 13 year old daughter about this idea, and instead of her all-too-common-lately response of rolling her eyes at me as I'd expected, she thought it was a great idea! Once I regained consciousness at the surprise that my "tween" thought I in fact actually had a good idea, my daughter and I found a suitable cardboard box. I made it into a manger using glue, construction paper and packing tape (I was an art major in college you know, although believe me I won't be out looking for business funding to start a Mangers-R-Us or anything). We filled it with raffia to look like hay. Then we went into the basement and dug out her bin of old "baby dollies" and picked one out to be Jesus.
So whenever we figure out what we're going to do for a tree, we're going to put our little manger by the tree - empty, waiting. And Christmas morning I'll put our Baby Jesus in the manger so in the midst of the wrapping paper, ribbons and tags, we'll be sure not to forget He is the best present of all! :-)