This is the 2nd Christmas in a row that I've been robbed. Last year, they kicked in my front door, in broad daylight and took 2 laptops. This year, they stole the Norman Rockwell right out of my Christmas. With no sign of forced entry. Growing up, Christmas seemed so magical, effortless (thanks Mom!). I fondly remember cutting our own Christmas tree each year. There were always Christmas carols playing on the stereo. The kitchen smelled divine and we always made candy for friends and neighbors. Wrapped presents magically showed up under the tree throughout the month. It was idyllic.
My experience as an adult has been a bit different. This year no-one helped me decorate the living room tree. The kids let the ornaments for their tree sit for two weeks before putting them on the tree. Seeming not to care. I never had to time to bake for neighbors. In my excitement over the PERFECT new location for the tree, I inadvertently blocked access to my sound system. It was a year without Christmas carols playing. And my why-do-today-what-you-can-put-off-til-tomorrow husband showed up on Christmas Eve with gifts that he didn't tell me needed to be wrapped until Christmas morning. Is that bah-humbug enough for ya?
But on Christmas Day, in a small, simple, stripped-down worship service, Amos asked us a few pointed questions. What do you love about Christmas? What do you NOT love about Christmas? How did we get from that first simple, stripped-down manger scene Christmas to the frenetic Christmas it's become today? And most importantly, Can we get back? Evidently it must be a radical or accidental decision to strip away the cultural demands and expectations.
As we left church to head home, we noticed a long, long line of people streaming from the doors of a church on Assembly St. They wrapped around the corner and down the hill so far I couldn't see the end. They were young, old, black, white, Hispanic, male, and female. And they were hungry. They weren't streaming out of the church after a beautiful service heading home to play with their new isomething or stuff their bellies with too many crumb-topped dishes. They were streaming in -- just to get a hot meal. It was a poignant and beautiful picture to share with my children AND to remind myself that we need to do this different next year.
I'm not saying there won't be any ornaments or parties or presents. I really don't know what "different" will look like. But I've got 364 shopping days til Christmas left to figure it out! And I hope -- I pray -- I won't just have good intentions and fail to follow through. I know I might. I've seen me do it.
But maybe next year, I'll actually fill those shoeboxes we took for Operation Christmas Child. (I know, I feel terrible about that.) Maybe we'll spend part of our day with those people lined up downtown. This year, I've blogged about it - and maybe that's a start.