Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Missing the Baby

I was driving around yesterday, pondering stuff in my head while I did so (which is generally how I miss my exits and stoplights). And it occurred to me that in the midst of my Christmas preparations, something is missing. This isn't the first year I've felt this, but I'm feeling it more strongly every year. And yesterday I realized what it is. The Baby is missing.

Sam has been bringing home papers from Sunday School this month and excitedly squealing, "Baby!" when he sees an artist's depiction of the Baby Jesus - laying serene in a sterile and brightly lit manger while his mother (why is Mary always pictured in a robe of blue? Have you ever wondered about this? Is there some historical significance that suggests she would have been garbed in that color?) hovers nearby and Joseph stands off to the side - so as not to get in the way, presumably. Sam thinks it's pretty great. We have a nativity on our living room buffet and Sam was exclaiming just last night over Baby Jesus - "Baby! Baby!" I tried to tell him it's Baby Jesus, but he just says, "Baby." In his mind I suppose it could be Baby Jesus, or his cousin Phoebe, or any of the other new babies in our church nursery. They are probably all one in the same in his mind. The important thing is that he's older than all of them!

Our Baby isn't missing. He's actually lucky because most of our nativity looks like they're survivors of a mass genocide. Evidently this set was manufactured in some third world country with substandard manufacturing capabilities. Both our shepards are missing their heads, as is one of the wisemen. Joseph only has one arm. The cow lost an ear. The goat sits on his belly because all 4 legs got broken off. The sheep is balanced precariously on the 3 he has left. The angel lost her wings. It's not exactly up to "House Beautiful" standards! Oh well. Maybe one of these years I'll just replace the whole thing. Or maybe not. The pitifulness kind of makes me laugh every year!

But anyway - what's missing at Christmas is the Baby Jesus. I get so caught up in all the "have to do" stuff that I don't spend much time reflecting on the whole reason we celebrate. Maybe it's not even realistic to think I ought to, though. I mean, really - how much time can one spend in deep thought about this? Perhaps it is just something that goes hand in hand with this season of life. I'm the busiest now I will probably ever be. Christmas generally falls on Mom and I'm no exception. But like I was bemoaning to Paul a few days ago, I really don't think all this is what God had in mind when He sent Jesus to us as a baby.

And that's not to say I don't like it. From time to time I hear other women piously say they have decided to eschew all gift giving and other busyness of the season and focus only on Christ. Okay...(secretly I have always thought that maybe they were just too cheap to do Christmas). But I don't want to do that. I love gift giving at Christmas! It's fun! The shopping part I'd be happy to give up, but I enjoy that aspect of the holiday. I like the tinsel and the lights, the treats, the family time - it makes me happy!

What I don't like is the stress of the season. Now this year I had all my shopping done a full two weeks in advance and I had everything that needed to be mailed done by the 15th. Everything is already wrapped and under the tree - I'm actually ahead of the game this year! I budget out our Christmas spending all year long so that by December, it's a non-issue. The money is there and waiting to be spent, which eliminates stress I remember from previous years. But even with those preparations, there's still a lot to do that has to be done on top of my everyday normal life. I wish there was a way to do it all - AND enjoy the season.

I remember the Christmases of my childhood and it was truly a magical time. I'd spend hours just sitting in front of our tree, looking at my reflection in the glass bulbs, willing the days to go by faster! And I remember thinking then a lot more about Jesus at the holiday. I suppose that's because we were singing about him and talking about him both at church and my parochial school. But I had a lot more time on my hands, too.

But with the advent of motherhood my focus changed. You know, I think it actually changed before then. I remember getting into college and finals were always just prior to Christmas. So now only did I have gift buying and parties and stuff do do - I had to study! And as soon as I was done with that, it was Christmas! And then I got married and was working full-time, which didn't leave a tremendous amount of time for getting ready for the holidays. But it was when I became a mom, and especially as the boys got older and I began to want to do more to establish traditions and memories for them, that stress started becoming a constant factor of December.

There has to be a way to do both. I know the day is coming that my kids will be grown and I won't have so many demands at this time of year. If I want, I can sit and think about the miracle of that little Baby born so long ago. But the truth is, I don't want to wait until then.

The story of Christmas is one of love and I think by missing the Baby, I'm missing out on some of that love. That's the real message of Christmas - obviously, it's not the gifts, parties, programs, baking, and fun music. And it's not even the story found in Luke 2, complete with the pregnant teenager, the trip to Nazareth, rejoicing angels, and shepards. The Christmas message is found in John 3:16. It's remembering that "God so loved the World, that He sent His beloved Son." He gave us His most precious child because He loved us beyond compare, more than anyone else has ever loved anybody. He loved us. He loved us. He loved me.

That's a message that isn't reserved only for Christmastime. But it's one that kind of gets lost in the shuffle of the busyness of days. So, my desire is to still find a way to do it all. Maybe that means eliminating some of what I do (although I am toying with the idea of teaching myself how to make candy this next year, so that I could do some at Christmas next year - which actually goes against the whole "eliminating" idea!). Maybe it just means being a bit more organized so that I'm not attempting to do everything in December. Maybe it means learning to let go of what's not really important (like my beleaguered nativity set) and having the wisdom to determine what to keep and what to let go.

But most of all, it's going to be about not missing the Baby. I've done that too much.

1 comment:

  1. :) Sarah! Thanks!

    (Hey, keep that nativity set--sounds like the inspiration for more humor articles!)