Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Christmas *Ideal*

My mom gave me some old pictures this year in her quest to *purge* their house in order to (hopefully) move at some point. One I kept and framed was a picture of me as a toddler, sitting on Santa's lap with the most ridiculous look of terror. My mouth is wide open as if I am screaming in pain, and poor Santa looks a bit taken aback. :) ( She had two such pictures).
I often look at that picture and chuckle. In some ways I have that sort of feeling about this Christmas. It has been one of those years and it seems like it just keeps coming.
For instance this morning I awoke to the kitchen ceiling leaking in two places, the basement floor with a puddle on it ( and it is carpeted), the dishwasher not working ( how did we do without one for years?) a 2 yo with croup, a baby and 4 yo with runny noses that threaten to turn into full blown colds and a teen with bronchitis. And that is just the easy stuff to deal with! :)
The other day ( in a weak moment, of course :) I was dialoging with God and rather chippily asked Him the dumbest question of all. WHY?! Why now, why at Christmas time? Why can't we have a happy, peaceful Christmas?
Of course it didn't take long for Him to answer me *Why not?*. *Why* is it we expect Christmas time to be pain-free and stress-free? Could it have something to do with being constantly bombarded with commercials and magazines, newspaper articles, etc. that portray the picture perfect Christmas? You know...the one where the house is perfectly decorated, the table is perfectly set and loaded with scrumptious dishes while family members sit about laughing and chatting merrily. The *Christmas Day* scene where gifts are piled under the tree and exhuberant, happy children are opening their gifts ( and of course, they got EVERYTHING they desired).
I am often reminded that Jesus was born in a barn. Duh. Do I really reflect on that? I am sure the barn ( or cave, or whatever it was) wasn't pristinely clean. It may have smelled. Mary may have been mighty chilly, probably very uncomfortable and she certainly didn't have a cushy ride to her place of delivery.
There wasn't a top notch spread waiting for her, Joseph and whoever else showed up after the birth ( or even top notch medical care). There was much uncertainty in their lives at that brilliant moment when God became man.
Yes, Christmas is a feast day AND it should be a celebration of this wondrous fact, yet there are other things to ponder along with the celebrating.
Jesus suffered, Mary suffered, Joseph suffered. That moment of birth, however terrific for us all, also started another ball rolling. The one where Jesus showed us what life should, could, will be for those of us who follow Him. Not always pain-free ( even at holidays) not always comfortable, smooth, other words, easy.
That is not to say we should always celebrate suffering, but we should accept it, no matter what time of year :).....and know that like in His life, it always leads to a greater good.
My friend Marie has a great quote:
"Life is not how it is supposed to be, it is how it is......
how you deal with it is what counts" ( paraphrased from Aquainis)

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Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.