Monday, December 16, 2013

Bah Humbug

When I was a little girl, I used to walk down to the corner of Croft Road and Wilbur Boulevard (I still remember the road names), where a couple had a huge Christmas display, complete with a nativity scene, in their yard.  Music streamed through loudspeakers, the lights were brilliant, and I was spellbound.  When I grew older and understood what Christmas was about, I would pray at that nativity scene and feel this amazing sense of connection.  It was Christmas time, snow was on the ground, school was out, Christ was born to save was good.

All too often, Jules, I forget this wisdom.  As William Wordsworth famously put it, the "child is father of the man," meaning we know things as kids that we forget as adults.  This particular holiday season has been really hard on me; my students took final exams and wrote final papers at the last minute, and I was grading them and reading complaints on the internet.  I was sleepy, upset, just not in the mood.

And the minute I finished that, my first thought wasn't about celebrating the season or taking a moment to be grateful.  It was "now I have to clean the house, and bake these pies, and take Jules to these parties."  In fact, your dad and I were in a grocery store, and he was looking at all of the goodies there, enjoying our time as a family.
"Hurry up," I said, "we don't have time for this."

"For this?"  But this is what Christmas is all

Then, we went to our usual tree lot, and the trees were all sold out.  And our vacuum cleaner is broken, so we couldn't vacuum up the pine needles.  And we still have to clean out the house for our onslaught of guests.  And I have so much cooking to do for parties.  And I need to prep my classes for next semester.  And do my research.  And....

But wait.

Mary and Joseph didn't sit there going "Crap.  We planned this all wrong.  We were supposed to get a room in an inn.  Now our baby will be born in a stinkin' manger."  Instead, they trusted in God, and in that moment, and it turned out to be far more beautiful than their most elaborate plans could have been.

And you know what?  We actually found a place that sold trees and donated the money to needy children, so I feel pretty darn good about that.  It's the most beautiful tree we've ever had!  And we're getting a new vacuum cleaner, and our guests won't care that much about our home, and I can always buy food for parties, and I will get the prepping done.  I always do.  Like Mary and Joseph, I need to trust in God, and in the beauty and magic of this season.

Thankfully, you are here to help with that!  Here's a video of you dancing to the light show on James Island.  Like me as a kid, you love the music, you love the lights, you love the people.
Click here for the video

You know me, Jules.  I'm always running, literally and figuratively.  Christmas, though, is about stopping and celebrating the miracle of Christ, of family, of life itself.  I hope that, when you get older, you never forget (like I did) to pause, enjoy the season, and give thanks for all of our blessings.  I don't think you will...your father is much better at this than I, and I think you take after him.  But just in case you do, please read this letter and remember that all that matters is that night, that manger, and that little baby.  The rest is humbug.

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