Christmas is for the Crafty( but Advent is for Everyone): Overcoming Holiday Lies I Believe with my Whole Heart.

Our Baby Jesus has no arms.

This is a different Baby Jesus than I wrote about earlier. That one is alive and well: they fight over him. It’s like Medieval Times.

No this Baby Jesus is the only one we have not manuafactured by Fisher Price. He rounds out a Nativity Scene with a headless angel. And I can’t decide what’s more disturbing:  that he has no arms, or that I was really sad to realize he was missing BOTH arms, because I am convinced last year he was only missing one. And I have that arm. I would prop it up next to him in his creche, a picture of broken humanity, and my inability to fix, replace or improve on anything.

You see…

I’m bad at Christmas.  Don’t tell my kids. Though they might sense it.

If it’s not true, I believe it like it is.  As if Christmas is something we do–  something we can fail or succed at, something we are all competing in.

Silly me.

See Christmas is full of things I’m not any good at: decorating, baking, maneuvering, storing, finding, and purchasing stuff, and managing expectations. Oh the expectations…

Christmas takes organization. You have to know where you put all the decorations the year before and what you needed to replace., and if Advent starts December 1, you need to have a calendar before then. I’ve learned this recently.

Christmas takes space. Living room space. I’m still working on settling into this house and BOOM, time to move in a large green tree.

It’s also full of family, with even greater expectations. Can’t we all just pretend its March and be happy to see each other just because?

Then I have my own expectations based on my own mythically magical childhood. I remember the first time Travis bought the girls presents. I didn’t know what to do. You are not supposed to buy them things! You are on batteries and assembly and custom furniture construction. Or was that  just my Dad?

Just wait, one day my girls will be all grown up, indignant to their husbands: “The Baby Jesus isn’t supposed to have arms.”

So now I could launch into all the ways we’ve made Christmas too hard and too expensive and too busy. But you know all that. I’ll just tell you about the little talk I had to have with myself. Just in case you need to have it with yourself.

1.  Be Thankful.

I keep waiting for Thanksgiving to start earlier and earlier like Christmas. But instead its shrunk down to three hours on a Thursday. I love Thanksgiving. It’s just about being thankful. And somehow no one has ever tried to load it down with more expectations. What is Christmas not about anymore? It’s about home  and family and magic and Peter Pan and lattes and new cars and snow, the romantic kind not the dangerous kind. It’s about wishes and presents and dreams coming true and eating whatever you want and looking beautiful.When Christmas starts making me panic I’m going to secretly be celebrating Thanksgiving. I’m thankful over and beyond this year. It deserves at least a month.

2. Advent is for EVERYONE.

This is about waiting for Jesus, with hope and joy and grief and honesty. That’s it. Someone else made the rest up. Seriously. It’s all made up. So you can make up your own ways of waiting and celebrating too. And opt out of the stuff that makes you feel small or miserable or like January is the best month of the year.

3. Do what is in front of you.

Mother Teresa claims that is all she ever did and so it’s one of my mantras. The other day I looked up and saw what was in front of me. It was the house across the street. The one with the eclectic architecture resembling something ready to take flight (Not bad. Just different. )It’s where the girls soccer team lives. My girls and I are going to invite them over for a Christmas party complete with recipes I make all the time and paper products. I get overwhelmed easily by my compassion for the world. So many to love and care for. Sometimes I just have to start by looking up.

4. Know what you love.

I love books.

Two weeks ago I went to the library and checked out 24 Christmas books. Each night we will unwrap one under the tree. And when Christmas is over we will RETURN THEM ALL !!!

and birthdays.

I love celebrations – marking the miracle of a life, and the journey of a year. Every year I do my girls birthdays differently. Never bigger or better. Just different  – depending on who they have become that year. Creativity over consistency. Maybe that’s my way of doing Tradition?

I love the Bible.

I find it more astounding the older I get. Deeper, and richer and more challenging. I love the dance of mystery and revelation. I cry at the heartbreaking love of God for his people, over covenants and exiles and returns and redemptions.

We are going to go through Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift this year. I decided this today of course. The book is strikingly beautiful but more than that it tells the Bible’s whole story. The story of a people and their God.

Ann intimidates me because she homeschools and farms and is clearly good at Christmas. But I have a feeling that she would say that I’m being ridiculous and we would be friends and she would even applaud that when I decided to make this Jesse Tree of hers, instead of using felt or branches I went to Walgreens, bought a tiny fake tree and ripped the berries off.

Ann and Jesus have much grace (and Advent is for everyone.)