I have a confession to make. I love Christmas, but sometimes it’s a little too messy for me. Ironically, I’m a soon-to-be mother of 4 who craves order. Between the shopping, food, decorations and the Christmas tree taking up way more room than I think it should, I can start to feel overwhelmed. Some years, I’m relieved when January rolls around and all the stuff gets put back where it belongs. What can I say? I have issues, but God isn’t finished with me yet. My mother assures me I was born this way (I loved to spend time alphabetizing my books at the age of 3). With each child that’s been added to our family, I’ve learned to embrace the mess more, but there are still times when my need for order gets the best of me.
A few years ago, I purchased new Christmas stockings for my 3 kiddos at the mecca of American consumerism, Pottery Barn Kids. I ordered 2 online with the monogram, but my oldest daughter wanted one that was only in the store so I told her I would purchase it and have it monogrammed later. For several days she hounded me about when her name was going to be sewn on her stocking and I asked her to wait patiently and I would take care of it. Then one day she appeared holding up her stocking with her name written on it in large, black sharpie ink. She had a proud, but sheepish grin on her face. I was furious. I asked, “Why did you do that when I told you I would have it sewn on?” And then I said the words I wish I could take back, “You ruined it!” She burst into tears and ran off. I justified my reaction because she had been disobedient, but I think I was angrier about the ruined stocking. I tucked it away in the decorations box and ordered a new one. Not my proudest mom moment.
Pulling out decorations a few years later, I smiled when I saw that old stocking and laughed to myself. I asked her if she remembered doing that. Her face sank and tears welled in her eyes as she looked at the stocking. I felt like a horrible mother and apologized as I put it back in the box for another year. This year, I pulled out the old reminder of my failure again and wondered if I could make it into something new. I promptly took the stocking to a fabric store and asked two middle-aged female employees if they thought I could cover up the writing and have a new name monogrammed on it. They both replied, “You’re going to want to keep that.” Apparently these kind women did not get that the thing had been ruined. And then it hit me, I was the one who didn’t get it. My daughter didn’t mess up her stocking; she was trying to make it useful and perfect. In my efforts to make everything perfect and beautiful, I was the one who made a mess.
At Christmas, I find myself thinking a lot about Mary. I wonder what she was thinking as she traveled that long journey to Bethlehem. I doubt that giving birth to her son in a stable far from home was part of her birth plan. No doubt it was dirty and smelly in there, a mess really. And into that mess, a savior is born. Luke 2:19 says, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” How she must have treasured the beauty of the moment.
So this year, I’m going to resist the urge to spread out the ornaments on the tree, fuss over details or shake off extra sprinkles. I’m going to embrace the beautiful mess of Christmas. The memories of laughter, love and chaos; I’m going to want to keep that. I’m so thankful that God knows my imperfections, loves me anyway and has my name written on the palm of his hand.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands – Isaiah 49:16