Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Messy Advent

It's the season of jollity and cheer, when all the world is magical and children watch snow softly falling and choirs hum in rosy candlelight.

'Tis also the season where I'm desperate to finish up school before break so when my children act like children I erupt and yell my head off.

Our much-anticipated last day before break ended with this exchange:

Me:  [foams at mouth and yells at kids for the fifth time to pick up their junk and go away!]

Jeddy:  "Gee, Mom, I can really tell you love us."

It's also the season when the kids point out how many other houses have their lights up before we do, and we still have a pile of pumpkins on the front step, though it's the second week of Advent.

Also it's like going on a road trip, because we hear the same repetitive chant:  "Are we going to get a Christmas tree soon?  When are we going to put up lights?  How many more days until Christmas?  When can we go Christmas shopping?  Can we go to that place with the blinking lights?  Can we go ice skating?  Can we make cookies?  Can I have another cookie?  When are we going to get a Christmas tree?"

It's the season of lists and tasks and errands...and the cards, oh the Christmas cards.

Guess what?  If you order your photo cards in the second week of Advent, they come like 2 days before Christmas, giving you approximately zero time to get your act together enough to obtain pretty stamps, find the addresses of all long-lost relatives, and actually get them in the mail.  And that's if you pay $8 shipping.  Any more economical and they'd be Valentine cards.

Jeddy had the brilliant idea to take pictures for our Christmas cards at the park here where they went bananas with an incredible Christmas display.

And, just in case I'd forgotten why we pay professional photographers $400 an hour, it's NOT the camera or even your understanding of how to use it, the light, the setting, the subjects or the depth of focus.

It's getting your darn kids to all look relatively pleasant at once--preferably at the camera.

If I only had three kids I could probably pull off a decent Christmas shot.

Hold this festive prop, I said.  Stand close so you're touching, I said.  Pose with the reindeer.  Pretend you're Santa driving the sleigh.  

What do I get for my efforts?

A screaming child trying to hit people with sticks rather than be in a family picture.

And riding a sheep in the nativity scene.

And knocking over the sheep in the nativity scene.

It went downhill from there.  There was fighting, kicking, shoving; general lack of magical cheer.

I don't have my life together.  It's halfway through Advent and I don't have decorations up [actually I do, but they're for Halloween].  I'm behind on cards and I haven't made a shopping list.  I think there are other things I'm supposed to do to "get ready for Christmas," but I'm not even sure what they all are yet.

My kids could care less about respecting a scene depicting Baby Jesus and see no irony in kicking each other to get the best spot posing beside the angel.

As their mother, role model, and example, I act like a jerk a lot of times.

I'm busy and anxious and grumpy about the failing daylight.  It's cold and I'm disorganized and we forget to do our Advent reading half the time and the kids will go to the mat rather than share their Christmas cookies.  I'm inefficient and weary and self-absorbed.

We're not "ready for Christmas."

Bless the Lord and His covenant faithfulness; this is why He came.  Jesus came when we weren't ready.  He came to us when we were a helpless mess, when it was cold, and dark, and His earthly parents weren't even at home, for goodness' sake.

Years and years and years of prophecies promising a Coming One.  Waiting, and waiting, and wondering...would it happen?  Would God give up on His people in the end?  What a disastrous mess we are, hopeless to make ourselves presentable for the Lord.  Why wouldn't He just stay away, up in heaven where it's light and warm and the angels sing praises?  

He came.

He came because He knew we were helpless.  He knew it was dark here, and we were fighting, and kicking each other off the reindeer sleigh.  He knew we weren't "ready for Christmas."  

He came into our world to save us.  

So yes, I am getting ready for Christmas.  

When I hurt myself putting up the wreath, when my blood pressure rises seeing the mess my kids made "decorating," when someone punches someone else in the head because they looked at their Christmas cookie (and it's possibly me).... I know I am ready for Christmas.  I'm ready for a Savior, and my heart rejoices with great joy that He came into my messy, ugly world, born to live and die among us, descending to us, that we might ascend with Him.

A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices!

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