I've been a mom for 32 years. It's a lot of Christmases and if you know me, you understand everything that goes along with it. Christmas, real Christmas gets lost sometimes, for many, unintentionally in the stress and busyness that defines the month of December. For as long as I can remember though, sometime during Advent Christmas always comes for me and it doesn't come down the chimney.
I know the 25th is officially Christmas.
I know that my Christmas shopping begins somewhere between August and October. I know my trees and decorations go up the week of Thanksgiving and I know that the Christmas spirit ebbs and flows for me emotionally throughout Advent.
I'm not talking about those things.
For me, every single Christmas there comes a point where I feel the promise of what His birth means to me, to the world. There comes a moment, where time slows down and the hope that exists in the coming of the Messiah settles deep into my very soul.
And in that moment Christmas comes for me.
It came in the first week of Advent this year. (I didn't write about it until Sunday and I'm sharing about it now after Epiphany.
I was home alone, as I usually am during the day, working on cookies for clients. I was spending a lot of the day in prayer as I work. It's how I roll (dough that is). I was listening to praise music and as I worked I was thinking about how much my life changed.
There were so many times looking back that my path was crooked. My house, my life was on fire and Jesus would come for me. He carried me out, and a couple times - well I just started a new fire. And you know what He did? He came for me again. And again.
He made a way to the beautiful life I have when, I promise you, there was - no way.
He carried, still carries me, through sickness, through depression, anxiety, trauma.
The advent candles in this photo are on my kitchen table. The big Nativity and smaller ones too are tucked into many of the lush green plants and it feels like a tangible expression of the journey to Bethlehem that is happening in my heart. I love the space.
As I reflected on His faithfulness to me, perfect faithfulness, I was called to the Nativity. I knelt there in the breakfast nook and prayed. I prayed as someone who knows what it's like to be part of that "weary world" waiting for salvation to come. I prayed as someone who saw it come for me and experienced it first hand.
I cried as I looked at the empty manger (Jesus doesn't arrive until the 25th so the manger is empty until then.) I cried remembering what my world was like before He came. I thought of those I know, and those I don't, who have not experienced Him. If you walk around my house you'll see that I have lots of the Christmas stuff and I love it - like really I do. But none of it matters to me without Him.
He is all I need.
Now, the Octave of Christmas has passed -8 days of feasts and celebrating redemption follow the preparation and penance of Advent. as Christmas begins. The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God has passed and so has Epiphany.
The house was filled to the brim. 5 trees, Camp Christmas, Journey to Bethlehem, St. Nicholas, more than a few of our favorite things and now it's all gone. Retreated to storage carefully (oh so carefully boxed because Husband Extraordinaire painstakingly manages this task for our home)
The house feels naked. Bare. Like a newborn.
Just when I needed to regroup, breathe and focus on the coming year, God through the Church laid the path.
I don't reinvent wheels. I don't spend my time agonizing on getting the how just perfect. I just go and figure it out along the way. Husband Extraordinaire says I'm like Walt Disney - just jump and build the parachute on the way down.
I do like a good planner and I love to be prepared. I know what's in my head, I know what I am capable of and what I'm not. Sometimes, I push the boundaries of what I can manage but that's how I learn my limits, testing them.
We look toward Candlemas, then Ash Wednesday and the Season of Lent spiritually and for our family we pray and prepare for blessings as we plan the wedding of our youngest son to his beautiful fiance Maggie in December.
Christ came into the world for me. He came for you too.
As we make plans, and declare resolutions our best hope in them is in Christ and remembering that truth. Christ, the hope of the world came to save us and we can rejoice in it.