I don’t know what we were thinking. The week before Christmas, we began to potty train our kids. Both kids. Not our idea. TL decided she wanted to wear undies. She’s a stubborn one, so we went with it. A few hours later, MM decided to follow his younger sister’s lead. Our lives have been a bit messy since.
So Christmas came and Christmas went. I had no grand plans in place. The fridge wasn’t even stocked. I scrambled to find a small gift for Smartypants the day before. It will be returned anyways because I didn’t even realize he already had one.
But there was joy. Immense joy. Without the pressure or expectation of a Hallmark picture-perfect holiday for my family, I simply celebrated. I simply lived. It didn’t matter what made it on the table. It didn’t matter what was under the tree. And it didn’t matter whether or not I even felt festive. I just celebrated. I celebrated my hope in Christ. Hope that defies all human expectation and comprehension of love, justice, power, and mercy. Hope that comes in the most humble of forms in the most unfestive of circumstances.
So I am thankful to my kids for distracting me from the pace and demands of the holidays with their puddles and smears. Nothing like crouching next to their potty for the 5th time within 3 hours to keep my mind off how to make Christmas feel like Christmas. Nothing like my own frustration and impatience as a mother that week to remind me again of my need for Christ and why it is I rejoice in that miraculous silent night.
Christmas came and went. The kids were adorable in their sheep costumes for a Christmas play. The living room was a mess of wrapping paper and bows. The multi-culturally confused menu of carne asada pita pockets, chinese rice porridge, and sauteed french haricots we whipped up for Christmas dinner was tasty and hearty. We all enjoyed wonderful gifts and blessings from family and friends, near and far.
However, what touched my heart most were the simple moments together. As we wind down from the adrenaline of Christmas, I am still savoring these moments…
The kids building with Legos and talking to each other in their own special way.
Belting out Veggie Tales christmas songs in the car. Jingle Jingle Jingle Ka-ching.
Going for a walk with the kids and collecting things for their “nature treasure chest”.
Reading “The Three Trees” together before opening presents.
Cooking and enjoying time in the kitchen with Smartypants.
The silly antics of trying to make potty-training fun.
Snuggling with the kids in their bed and talking about the best gift ever that God has already given us.Me: Sweetie, did you know God has already given us the best gift ever? MM: Lightning McQueen?? Me: Lightning McQueen is really cool, but it’s even better than that! MM (with eyes opening wide): Lightning McQueen AND Chick Hicks??? Me: Even better than that! MM (breathless): Lightning McQueen and Chick Hicks AND all his car friends?!?!
In retrospect, I see that these moments can happen any day of the year. That is the beauty of Christmas to me — the unsurpassed joy and breathtaking wonder of Jesus can transform every day into the greatest of celebration. Not because it meets my expectations or ideals of what is worth celebrating, but because there already is reason to celebrate.
Whether or not Santa comes to pile on the gifts or that creepy Elf is lurking on some shelf. Whether or not the kids make it to the potty in time or if we’re in a good mood. Whether or not “Christmas” the holiday even has anything to do with Christ when all is said and done.
I love it all. The lights. The tree. The stockings. The cards and family newsletters. The songs. But Christmas comes and goes and it often feels a bit like a blur.
But as I threw out all the boxes and crumpled wrapping paper, Christ remains. Here with us in each day to follow. Emmanuel. Faith that perseveres. Joy that continues to sing above the imperfections. Every day. Every moment. No Christmas required.