Sunday, December 3rd, 8:45 AM
“Gracie, sit right over there. Put Bea in your lap”
“No, honey, don’t hold on to her that tight— Bea, baby, it’s ok, don’t cry”
“Don’t you touch that bow, Gracie, I promise I’ll take it right out after I take a picture.”
“SMILE BEA!!! BEA BEA BEA BEEEEEEAAAAAA!!!!!!”
“Hug Bea, Gracie. NO DON’T PUSH YOUR SISTER!”
“Goldfish! I’ll give you GOOOLLLLDFISH!!!!”
Gracie pauses mid-tantrum and says, “Rainbow Goldfish?” with the timing of a master negotiator. I’ve got an iPhone in one hand, holding our dog Willis back with the other; I’m makeup’d and coiffed as I can only achieve on a Sunday morning, but I’m still in the pajama pants I’ve had since high school and an old t-shirt from the beach. Husband is dancing around behind me like Mr. Rogers on speed, which explains Bea’s confused looks in all the pictures.
“I just want a decent picture. In your nice outfits. Please. That’s all I’m asking.”
As I’m sure you’re reading this after looking at our Christmas card, you’ve already realized that I didn’t get the desired picture.
This year will be our first Christmas as a family of four. Granted, we’ve been a family of four for over a year, but Bea spent her first Christmas in the NICU. Last December we were all scattered throughout Mississippi and Tennessee, and each Christmas song on the radio, decorated store, or special on the television was a reminder that my family wasn’t together like it should be.
Well, we’re all together now, and it’s complete chaos (this is where you look at our picture again and chuckle). I dream of quiet evenings in front of the fire, reading Christmas books and sipping hot cocoa. Instead, it’s 80 degrees outside. Bea ate the cover off our new Christmas book, and you better believe I’m not giving my lively three-year-old chocolate before bedtime.
The closest moment I got to Christmas bliss was the 5-minute span that Gracie and Bea played with our Little People Nativity last week. Gracie was singing “Happy birthday Jesus” off-key and Bea was gnawing on one of the wise men. Gracie stopped mid-sentence and asked “Where’s Mary?!?!”. I thought she probably ran away- I’d be scarce if I was treated the way Gracie treats her toys. Bringing it back to reality, though, can you imagine what Mary was going through at the real nativity scene? I’m surprised she didn’t run away! I complained about giving birth under stressful circumstances with Bea; but at least I did it in a hospital. Mary gave birth in a barn. Surrounded by animals. She put her precious Child in a feed trough instead of cradle. And then some smelly, burly shepherds show up and want to see the baby? Yikes.
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we may receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5) Christ was born amidst chaos. Mary gave birth to the Son of God in the most imperfect, hectic, crazy situation. The “fullness of time” just happened to be in the middle of ticking time bomb of social and political upheaval- not only for Mary, but for the entire Jewish people. After his birth, Jesus continued to live in the chaos of life- He was born “under the law”, suffering from the effects of sin just as we do. And it’s because He contained His deity in a human form and lived among us, and died for us, that we are now adopted in to a perfect family. A family that still lives among the chaos- we’re stuck with that for a while- but one that knows the purpose behind the messiness of life.
We all have different types of chaos in our lives. The Christmas season, at least for me, brings whatever frustrations and failings I have in focus. I’m truly thankful that my level of chaos this year is the day-in, day-out insanity of staying at home with two young children. I pray that your level of chaos isn’t where we were last year. So wherever you fall in the spectrum, I hope your Christmas is filled with the knowledge that “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men” doesn’t always mean things are picture perfect.
Merry Christmas, from my family to yours.