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This is December 23.

It looks like this.

The tree is up, and there is music softly playing.

We finished all the O Antiphons, 

but there are somehow still three links left on our Advent chain.

Oops. We must have missed one.

There is a pile of wrapping still to do.

There are dishes in the sink.

There are multiple loads of laundry to fold and pack into variously-sized suitcases.

There’s a baby on my lap, asleep.

And I’m curled up on the sofa under a blanket, having spent the last 37 hours with a wicked bug of some kind, complete with chills, fever, and general unpleasantness.

Every Type A bone in my body is telling me to get off the couch. Get moving. Do more. There’s baking I’d intended to do. I just need to clean the counter where the leftover baptism cake is sitting, and put away the instruments and music from our wonderful singing party this past weekend. 

And somehow, I can’t move. I’m tired and achy and I just want to rest.

I’m not ready for Christmas. 

I don’t know why this surprises me every year. 

One year, I was a new mom, with a not-quite-three-month-old baby, and I wasn’t ready.

Another year, I had barely three-month-old twins, and I wasn’t ready.

This year, I have a sweet newly-baptized four-month-old, and I’m sick in bed a few days before the big celebration, and again, I’m not ready. Despite all my lists and charts and schedules, there is still so much I wanted to do that is left undone.

I wonder how many times I need to learn this lesson? When am I going to figure out that Christmas doesn’t depend on my being ready? 

Jesus showed up long ago to an unprepared mother in the middle of a stable because he was ready. It was time…the fullness of time, a God-ordained moment. Ready or not, Christmas is coming…and I can’t hold it off with my worries of being unprepared any more than Mary could have held off her labor that first Christmas night. 

Fortunately, as I keep telling my oldest son, Christmas isn’t about the presents, wrapped beautifully or otherwise. It isn’t about the cookies I haven’t made or about having a perfect dessert to bring to our third family gathering of the Christmas celebration streak.

Jesus was born in a manger, and he doesn’t care about any of that, any more than my own tiny baby boy does.

What babies need, and what Jesus needs, are willing arms. Open hearts. A little bit of space in which to grow. Love.

And despite the mess here today, I think we can manage those things.

Come, thou long-expected Jesus. Even if we won’t ever be ready, we are as ready as we can be.

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