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This Christmas

Advent means the arrival of someone or something…a “notable person, thing, or event.” I was just sitting here looking at our Christmas tree this evening. It is quiet. I stopped…a pause. I don’t do that very often, do you? It is now the fourth Sunday of advent, and next is Christmas Day. Wow that got here quickly.

As I stared at our tree, I started to think about Josh’s sweater. It has a picture of Jesus with a birthday hat on and says, “GO JESUS…IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY!” You can see the full effect on his Instagram page, just like I did-- hereiamhereiamthejosherman --aka Jenny Jordan’s brother. He’s awesome, as is she! Thanks for the reminder Josh…it is Jesus’ birthday. The day He was born. His advent. I know. But…wow is it easy to skip the reality of this. Jesus was born. Jesus. He was a person here on earth. “Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing….” (O Come All Ye Faithful, one of my favorites.) And all these years later we are still celebrating His birthday.

I’m kind of amazed how much I have been thinking about Christmas, and how little I’ve been thinking about it as Jesus’ birthday.

One of my friends asked me about “timing” as in, “What is it about ‘a year ago’ that stirs so many memories?” An excellent question. Her friend died on December 9, a year ago. The date approached with a dread of the grief returning. It is a marker for my friend and for many who experienced the tragedy of her death. So many feel this way about Christmas time, as there are losses and traumas and sadness that the yearly season marks. We get on a familiar path with the seasons we move through and the “anniversaries” we celebrate or mourn. Traditions and remembrances…some are wonderful, some are heart-wrenching.

For a long time, I was sad at Christmas. I deeply missed my biggest Christmas person, my grandfather, who died way too young. I also carried memories of my father drinking and not keeping promises and my mother upset. The lights and decorations brought melancholy more than anything. Now though, the numbers of Christmases that have been about my own husband and children, our home, our traditions have outnumbered the sad years. It took some time, but now I approach Christmas with joy and anticipation. I'm finding also healing, and a new ability to remember Christmas growing up with gratitude for my grandparents and family. Warm family memories wash over me when I look at that tree. And I miss them, the children who helped turn Christmas around for me are adults now…thankfully, we will all be together again for Christmas. I think new fun memories are on the way!

In all of those emotions around this yearly event, where does Jesus even come in? It’s His birthday, but so much more is going on inside of me and around me. I’m finding that slowing down and really considering who He is makes all the difference in the world. This is true at Christmas and every day of the year. It is so easy to go through the motions. It’s easy to be lulled into hearing the “same stories” around Christmas, the same music, the same everything…and not hearing the words, or singing the words, or feeling the words. The reality of this Jesus, born because of love for us all. He Himself is the best gift ever. There is a quiet wonder that happens in my heart as I stop and look at this tree in the silence, considering Jesus..

I pray the reality of His amazing love will fill your heart this Christmas…deep and true. In sadness or joy, wherever your heart is today, come with your love and comfort, your joy ad peace, Lord Jesus. Happy Birthday to You…and may this be a Merry Christmas for all!

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