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.