I’ve always wanted a perfect Christmas – whatever that is. Mostly I’d be happy if the tree stood straight and if no one was sad, mad or bad. For years when asked what I’d like for Christmas my response was always the same: Clean house and good kids. Talk about your unanswered prayers!
But you know in the movie ‘White Christmas’ when it starts snowing right on cue and the walls of the barn (that has been converted into a stage) just magically open. Or like in ‘The Miracle on 34th Street’ when Natalie Wood finds the perfect house that just happens to be “for sale” and open on Christmas Day. Or when Father comes home just before Christmas in ‘Little Women’ and Marmee’s eyes fill with tears (by the way, the one with Katherine Hepburn and Spring Byington is the one to watch). I’ve always secretly wanted one of those Hollywood Christmases. One of those Christmases where EVERYONE cries and then laughs and realizes WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT.
But we’ve never had any of those “cue the music” Christmas moments at our house. Usually they’re more of the “Christmas Story” variety – cursing the neighbors’ dogs! And too often Christmas or Christmas Eve is a little boring – same people, same gifts, same stuff. Oh the food is great and we love our family and we do try to center Christ in Christmas but sometimes it all seems a little too rote. Been there; done that.
Looking back it seems to me that our best Christmases have been the messy, unpredictable ones. And we’ve had some doozies. Like when Blake was about 3 years old and puked at my brother’s house on Christmas Eve or when Bess woke up with bronchitis on Christmas Day or the year that our car slid off the road on Christmas Eve on our way to see Aunt Marge and Grandma Hazel. Those are the memorable Christmases. Oh, we’ve had some ‘Currier and Ives’ moments too, but mostly the messy Christmases have been our best.
Scooping up poor little sick Blake (and wiping up vomit) may not make a pretty Christmas card but getting him home and tucked into bed and praying at his bedside that he would be well enough for Santa the next morning is still a favorite memory. Bringing Bess a cup of tea and a few sugar cookies in bed while she was recuperating from bronchitis still makes me a little sentimental – she was too sick to do anything but hold her new baby doll but still she managed a smile that broke my heart. Or the year that we went to midnight Mass and some drunken guy started crying because he hadn’t been to church in years – and we witnessed his ‘conversion moment’. I felt like a jerk for having grumbled under my breath earlier to Deb about “this guy behind us”.
God certainly had a hand in all of this. And I guess the first Christmas was a pretty humble occasion. So why do I need a perfect Christmas anyway? Besides I think those messy ones have been perfect – perfected by Christ.
So this year I’ll plan for another beautiful Christmas but I hope to remember to thank God for the one that I get. And if I’m truly blessed it may be a little bit messy. Hope yours is too!
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23