Monday, December 22, 2014

Chaotic Christmas

Two boys are wrestling on the rug. Nearby Rosie is oblivious, playing with her play kitchen next to the side table where Fiona is playing a computer game on my lap top. Dinah is drawing over on the coffee table and I'm on the couch, feet up, knitting (always with the knitting). This room is loud. There are toys sprinkled here and there, books in haphazard stacks in any available space. The bookshelves are crammed with board games, art supplies and school books. We live in every inch of this space. In the corner, next to the TV, stands our Christmas tree. Right in the middle of our chaos.

I agonized over it, the tree this year next to the television. Silly, I know, but I kept thinking - I don't want a tv in the pictures I'll take of my kids in front of the tree! It didn't fit my vision of Christmas. Christmas as special, Christmas as set-apart. Christmas as somehow removed, glamorously different than our daily world.

In the house I grew up in, there were many spacious rooms. We always had our tree in the Living room, a room that was reserved for special events. Beyond practicing the piano, or my dad reading in there late at night, the living room was largely unused. The family room in the back was where we played and where the tv lived. The library was where we did school. The living room was special and so it made sense to me that that was our Christmas room. The place we decked out in Christmas finery each year.

It's funny, isn't it, how we hold tightly onto things in our lives, so sure of their absolute importance that it can cloud our thinking. The placement of my childhood tree made sense. We hosted a big family Christmas eve party each year and the whole house was thrown open wide for guests. But in my little house, there are no unused rooms. No special, company-only spaces. Each room used at max capacity.

For a while, it bothered me. Once the tree would go up, I'd try extra hard to keep our living room spotless, lecturing kids on picking up their toys and keeping things nice for Christmas. I've softened on that. Sure, I'll pick up on Christmas eve, maybe even run the vacuum before setting gifts under the tree so that Christmas morning dawns fresh and clean. But, really? We live here. This is our play room, our reading room, our wrestling room. It's the place where my kids lose puzzle pieces under the couch and Rosie sets play food on every surface. It's the space where they play video games and where I leave disorganized heaps of knitting here and there. It's our life. And right smack in the middle of life might just be exactly where Christmas is meant to come.

A glamorous, special, no-holds-barred Christmas is not wrong. But neither is Christmas right smack in the middle of every day life. For a King who came on an ordinary night to ordinary people in their ordinary lives, it kind of feels right. I'm reminded every night those kids head to bed and the lights on our tree shine out in the midst of evidence of another chaotic, regular day - that His light is constant in the chaos of life. A miracle shining brightly in the middle of the ordinary.

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  1. Oh goodness, yes, embracing the reality of our family lives and what that looks like during the holidays has been hard for me, too! Thank you for your thoughtful reflections.

  2. So true. He landed right in the middle of an ordinary stable, in all the dirt and mess that went with it. Surely, He can come into our homes and hearts even if they are a little dusty and cluttered.


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