We all know the Christmas season rarely looks like it does in a Hallmark movie. A couple walks hand-in-hand down a snow covered sidewalk peeping through store windows that are all decked out in tinsel and twinkle lights. Snow is gently falling. He is wearing a perfectly fitted tweed jacket with leather lapels and a perfectly draped scarf around his neck, looking quite the man of the Manor. She dons a charming furry hat as wispy curls softly frame her exquisitely made-up face. The wee children walk beside them decked out in the latest holiday frocks straight off The Gap and Banana Republic shelves. Gum-drop sized dimples and just the right number of freckles sprinkled across their noses. What could be more perfect? No mess here.
The truth is most of our Christmases resemble something from a badly scripted reality TV show. Mom and dad are grumpy, tired, with Zombie-ish expressions on their faces as they scour Walmart aisles with a fading hope for a sighting of this year’s must-have toy. (Remember Cabbage Patch dolls and Tickle-Me-Elmo?) He is wearing an oil stained Carhart Jacket with an Elmer Fudd-like hat complete with ear flaps. She wears ear muffs that look like Rudolph’s nose and a poufy ski jacket with a broken zipper. Oh, and let’s not forget the mascara smudges under each eye making her look a little like an NFL linebacker. And the kids? Well, let’s just say they’re wiping their noses on their sleeves and one of them lost a snow boot back on aisle five.
Holidays are messy and Christmas is the messiest of all. We set ourselves up by raising the bar so high when it comes to decorations, behaviors, gifts, food, you name it, that we even have good ol’ St. Nick, himself, running for the hills. And, Jesus, that baby in a manger we say is the reason for the season? Talk about throwing the baby out with the last year’s tinsel.
Listen, all I’m trying to say is don’t get carried away. Don’t get sucked into the hype. Don’t hold yourself up next to impossible expectations of the season. If you do you’ll fail every time. I know because I’ve been down that path. Dial it back. Find the real. Accept what is.
I don’t believe baby Jesus’ birthday is December 25th. If you did some historical snooping you’d find that December is probably the least likely month in which The Christ Child was born. However, I do believe there is never a wrong time to celebrate the birth and life of our Savior. Perfectly trimmed trees, a ton of wrapped presents, the perfect snow fall, a flawless family, perfectly coiffed and behaved children, and world peace does not Christmas make.
Christmas is about a baby who cried and wet. Christmas is about those messy irregular people that you love but who can frustrate you to no end. Christmas is about giving and giving can get pretty messy. Dial back the la-de-das and embrace more of the mess and true meaning of Christmas. Now go retrieve that snow boot on aisle five.
Merry Christmas, dear ones.