Isn’t it fun to decorate for Christmas? One of the highlights of post-Thanksgiving is bringing the Christmas boxes down from the attic. We burn our scented candles, play our holiday music, and open the boxes to rediscover our treasures.
Yesterday was box-opening day, and the candles were lit and the music was playing but things didn’t seem quite right. We had just returned the night before from a 12-hour drive, and I was tired. Laundry demanded my attention. Homework demanded my daughter’s attention. But she was so excited to “start Christmas,” so we tried to make it work.
Before I could clear away the mantle to make room for the special decorations, Caroline was face and arms down into the boxes. It happened that the first box she came to was a box of her special Christmas things. Little girl decorations with sequins and stuffed animal faces. It quickly became apparent that Caroline had a plan. She started putting her things on the mantle.
“No, no, no….these don’t belong here,” I stammered.
And it quickly became apparent that we were at a standoff. How could I tell her that her decorations were not mantle-worthy?
My husband and I have been married for 18 years, so I figure that means I’ve been in charge of decorating for 18 years now. This was the first time I ever encountered another point-of-view about the way things should look.
“This is where we put our pretty candles and our greenery,” I explained. She didn’t care.
“Mommy always decorates the mantle.” She pouted.
With guilt and frustration mounting, I pushed her things aside and set the candles in place. Caroline disappeared. Guilt eventually gained the upper-hand, and I set off to find her, expecting that she would be sulking in her room. “I’m in here, Mommy,” she said sweetly, and I discovered her sitting at my desk. Caroline was drawing a picture of the mantle, with her decorations interspersed in the greenery and candles. “Isn’t it pretty, Mommy? When we work together?”
So I relented. We decorated the mantle with an assortment of angels, shepherds, Santa Claus, candles, and a lion-faced Nutcracker. I decided I would be okay with it after all. Until Caroline pointed to one of the pretty candles.
“We don’t need this … it doesn’t look right,” she asserted.
All the tiredness and unexpectedness of this encounter with a pint-sized trespasser caught up with me. I exploded. “OKAY. YOU do it YOUR WAY. It’s ALL yours!”
Did you ever have a moment when you wished for a rewind button?
As I was listening to the radio later, I heard an interview with Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. She was speaking of Christmas with all of its joys and (sigh) all of the “where’s rewind?” moments.
“Bad mommy moments don’t make bad moms,” she said. And for that, I am grateful.
The truest spirit of Christmas is about reconciliation.
“Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King. Peace on earth and mercy mild. God and sinners reconciled!”
I have had my share of moments as a mom, wife, daughter, relative, friend, and Christ follower that wouldn’t make the yearly Christmas letter. But I love what Charles Stanley says about Christmas:
“Jesus came to earth to find each person where he was, not where he ought to have been. And the same is true today. God reaches into the darkest, dirtiest, most fearful places to correct and restore us into who He meant for us to be.”
Can we ever fully grasp our Savior’s humble sacrifice through which He reconciled us to God? How can we wrap our minds around the truth that the King of Kings was the “infant holy, infant lowly” born in a dark, dirty cattle stall?
“Bethlehem” literally means “house of bread.” “The living bread that came down from heaven” (John 6:51) was born in the house of bread.
Yesterday, our pastor spoke of Matthew 6:11 (in the Lord’s Prayer): “Give us this day our daily bread.”
According to Pastor Kennedy, the “Give” of this request is rightly expressed in an attitude of humility and dependence. It follows worship (“Our Father who art in Heaven. Hallowed be Your Name”) and surrender (“Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done.”).
Worship and surrender set my heart right toward God. Worship and surrender also set my heart right toward others. As Pastor Kennedy pointed out, the prayer is “Give US our daily bread.” Instead of being self-absorbed, I seek the good of others.
Instead of being controlling, I can be content.
Instead of being led by pride, I can be guided by perspective. What’s the better treasure – a beautiful mantle or a beautiful heart?
In the midst of a season when shopping lines are long and time is short, we have to be intentionally focused on worship and surrender. This preparation helps us to respond in the Spirit when otherwise we might react in the flesh.
So I confessed my irritability and selfishness to Caroline and asked for her forgiveness. I asked her today what she thinks of our mantle.
“I love it!” she said. And so do I.