We are grateful to be with family so much this year. I'm also grateful I picked up these hats at the 100 yen store last year. Almost all of these are taken in my parents' lovely house. (Read: my mom gets credit for the decorating!) If you're wondering what the aforementioned "Good Christians" thing is, read to the end. Or just read the end and don't pretend, it's OK.
We've been engaging in the usual: silly hat wearing, church-disrupting, Catchphrase-playing, playground-dominating, Crèche-set-upping, dog-cuddling, hymn-singing.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
Also, making up for past and future lost time. With two Army guys in the family, we can't count on Christmases together.
I didn't realize how fun it is to be the one stuffing the stockings. And I got a good reminder that Christmas isn't the big test on whether you've been successfully not spoiling your child; it's just another teaching day, one with a large load of expectations, competing motives, emotional rollercoastering, missed naps, and sugar--even if you're a kid! A couple of days ago, the GNG was saying that Christmas was all about presents. Today she cupped my face in her hands and said, "Christmas is all about love." Progress, people. Christmas: all the love in the world and outside of it bundled into flesh and bones.
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
And why, yes, we have been mulling some wine.
It is so easy to idolize the moment. The hot drink in your hand, an old running joke, friendships among siblings and cousins, the restaurant-worthy meal, the unpredicted snowflakes. The girl with a loving man willing to father a boy who isn't his, the serendipitous stable, the angel choir, the newborn calm. Hail, hail! The Word made flesh.
But always, there are the quiet sadnesses and worries, the weight of the year: habits unkicked and wrongs not righted, the unrelenting pressure of the daily grind, the smashed hopes, the illnesses and fears, the deployed husband, the money that isn't there, lost grandparents and parents and friends and babies. The terrible: the six from the helicopter--their families expected this Christmas without them--but every Christmas? The catastrophic: your brothers and sisters blown up while leaving church.
That girl in the stable, I'm sure she had some perfect moments, but her heart (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also) would be lifted and broken by her baby boy. Good Christian, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. The extraordinary child, the miracles, the thousands upon thousands watching and following. The arrest, public torture and execution.Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. We Americans, we do adore a good rise-and-fall story, especially if it comes with a side of outrage. How much richer is this rising story: a humbled God, a voluntary sentence-taking, a final unimaginable resolution. The great outrageous mending, uncheapened. The scars on his risen body showing the cost.
This "good Christian" we sing of isn't firstly good at all, but is one who listens with awe to this Word which pleads not to us but for us. Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace. The man who got it all exactly right still knew pain unimaginable, and by his wounds we are healed.
For God so loved the world.
Yes, Eva: Christmas is all about love. It's dirtier and bloodier and harder than you think, but at the heart it is love, pure and simple.