I always have the desire to want holidays to be perfect. Don't you?
A clean house. Beautifully wrapped presents. Tons of delicious foods. Picturesque decorations.
Everything. Just. So.
But this year, as I trim the tree and bake the Christmas cookies, I feel the anxiety beginning to build. Slowly, at first....and then faster as the holiday approaches.
Now, I am truly, TRULY thankful for family coming to visit. I am SO excited, I cannot contain myself. Really, I am. I LOVE having people to our house, especially at Christmas time. But, our house is teeny, tiny, and our extended family, is, well....big. :) 17 of us altogether under one roof for ten days to be exact. And my need to control, and maintain order and perfection kicks in. How will I possibly keep my house clean with that many people? Where will all our STUFF go? Where will we all sleep? And so on and so on.
But you know what? That first Christmas? The one that took place in a STABLE?? The one where a poor, pregnant teenager was confined to give birth in a smelly barnyard? A feedbox full of scratchy hay for a cradle? A murderous king out to find and kill the newborn baby? Yeah, that story. Well, that one wasn't perfect either. It wasn't even close. And yet, something about it was, and still is, beautiful. After all, 2,000 years later, we are still celebrating.
Perhaps it was the simplicity of it all. The fact that is was so ordinary, so relatable, that makes it beautiful. Perhaps it was the love story of a God who so desperately loved His creation that He entered our world. Emmanuel. God with us. I'm quite certain it was all of the above.
Growing up, holidays weren't always Hallmark-approved either. Oh, they were wonderful alright, but often times they felt more like that first Christmas than the spreads I see on the cover of a Better Homes and Garden magazine. Some of my fondest memories of holidays, however, were around my grandmother's table. Or tables....depending how you look at it. Her home was modest, but every year the dining room table was busting at the seams with people. And when that table filled up, there was card table, after card table set-up extending into the living room. Family. Friends. Even strangers graced our table a year or two. Never once would you hear Mimi say, "No room at the inn." Anyone who needed somewhere to go was invited. All were welcome. And, it too, was beautiful. Just like that first Christmas.
I am certain that it was the love that abounded. The relationships that were formed. The room that we made, not only in our homes, but also in our hearts for others. It isn't the perfection I remember so much, as the imperfections.
Are we more concerned with perfect table settings this year? Things being "just so" on the outside? Tons of gifts, perfectly wrapped? Inward beauty taking a back seat to outward perfection? I'm hoping not. I'm praying mine is a home of laughter this year. Of joy. Of the pitter-patter of LOTS of little feet. Relationships. Food in the oven. Fire crackling. Christmas music playing. Oh, I'm certain there will be messes to clean. I'm even certain that on the outside, it may not look all that "perfect" to you. But that's OK, the perfect is found in the imperfection.
I cannot wait!! A house full of life, and laughter and children. Hearts set in anticipation of the One whom this celebration is all about. An absolutely perfect holiday.
Looking for a place to spend Christmas this year? I may just be able to scrounge up an extra seat or two at our table. ;)