It’s Christmas Eve. You know those commercials and television shows and movies of Christmas Eve with snow softly falling on the ground, packages beautifully tied up under the tree, kids in warm fuzzy pajamas playing happily around a fireplace, and a huge buffet spread on a gorgeously set table with candlelight? That’s not my Christmas Eve. It’s probably not yours either.
My house smells like dog pee because the dog refuses to go outside to use the bathroom. I can’t blame her as there is nothing short of a monsoon outside. My house looks like a bomb exploded after I decided to take down wallpaper this week.
I just looked at the weather app on my phone and thunderstorms are supposed to continue all through Christmas Day. The weather plays havoc on my emotional state. Honestly, I want to bury myself under blankets and not come out until March. As I sit here thinking what a nice Christmas gift sunshine would be, it dawns on me how rain and thunderstorms and a messed up house that smells of dog urine is fitting and perfectly Christmas.
I’ve read and reread Luke 2. I want so much to only focus on the angel chorus, the shepherds’ visit, and the magi’s gifts. Today I shifted my focus to notice all the lack of comforts. Mary traveling so far at the end of her pregnancy (that poor bladder of hers), giving birth in an unsterile cave, no bed, little protection from the elements, the smell of animal urine and feces surrounding her. Joseph probably not having a clue how to comfort her in those birthing pains. And birthing pains…..there was no freaking epidural, no birthing tub, no pillow. I can’t even imagine. And after the birth, fleeing to protect Jesus from certain death.
It sounds like the most horrible, uncomfortable, scary time ever. In our modern days we’ve sanitized this story to justify making ourselves comfortable. We’ve made Christmas out to be the “most wonderful time of the year” and it is…..but not in the way we expect. It’s a joy, not a happiness. It’s recognizing and welcoming discomfort while celebrating in the midst. The story of Jesus’s birth is not a warm, fuzzy story. It is a recognition that Christmas….and our lives …. are uncomfortable. Things will not go according to plan. And that is how it should be. It is about feeling pain and hurt (labor without epidurals), feeling displaced and without the home you imagined (no room at the inn), it is about picking up and moving when you really don’t want to (and likely on the back of an animal), and it is about fulfilling the plan God has for you despite how ridiculed you may be (young, pregnant, unmarried girl). Christmas is meant to be uncomfortable. God can sometimes be uncomfortable. Our lives are often uncomfortable. However, our task is to listen for the angels, seek out the shepherds, and look for the magi gifts in our own lives.
Don’t try to sterilize your Christmas if it doesn’t look like a Hallmark card. Recognize it, embrace it, and then seek those moments that you can seize joy.