Christmas is so messy.
I’ll let you into a (non)secret: I’m not so good at housework. Right now I’m supposed to be cleaning, but as you can see, I’m not. And at Christmas, there’s more stuff around, plus there’s more stuff to do which in this home takes priority over housework. So our already-not-exactly-neat home is now even more messy. It’s littered with Christmas crafts, envelopes, scraps of wrapping paper and ribbon, and pine needles. Yesterday I had several ribbons sellotape to the sole of my slipper for longer than is reasonable before I addressed the issue.
It’s messy in other ways too. Around about mid October I begin to dread the Christmas fair. This year it lived up to my dire expectations, once again. It’s not that I disagree with it in principle, but rather it is too overwhelming for me and my kin. We cannot cope with it at all. This year, only half of my children cried throughout. I left in such a hurry that when I realised we had one toddler welly missing, I refused to go back in. “I’ll buy new wellies if I have to!” said I.
Here is a text I sent a friend the week before the Christmas fair:
“This week we had to bring in a cup of sweets each on Monday, email the school some photos of us doing some ‘extreme reading’ (but safely), bring in some bread from our culture tomorrow and a gift for the school fair, wearing our own clothes, on Friday… I’m always aware it would be less mad if I only had 1 or 2 children at school, so it’s not really the school’s fault. Plus it’s fun. Although the other parents seem confused too. ‘This time do we wrap it? Do they wear spots? Have I missed the shoe box deadline?’ (yes)…”
I will inevitably drop several balls in December. Last week I was supposed to watch my daughter’s gymnastics assessment, but I forgot. She was very gracious about it, but it didn’t feel good. I wonder what I’ll forget to do this week. Hopefully nothing life-threatening or childhood-scarring. And my poor husband is bombarded with crazy text messages as I try to get him to help me to remember everything.
However, the biggest mess I see at Christmas, as I experience this pressure-cooker of festivity and reflect on the year gone by, is in my own heart. I’m still selfish, I’m still trying to be self-sufficient, I’m still self-centred. God is changing me, by his grace. But folks, progress is slow.
And yet, God himself came down to meet me in this mess.
The tragedy of carol services is how overfamiliar we become with the awesome words of Scripture. I mean, just look at this:
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.’
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’[g](which means ‘God with us’). (Matthew 1)
He came down to save us from our sins. To deal with our mess. He came to be with us. I don’t deserve that, but oh how I need it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus. Thank you for coming.