Gwen screamed “I want the blue one now!” and I was sure the whole neighborhood could hear. what are you supposed to do when your toddler doesn’t get her way, I never could figure that one out. Her face was red and her hands were clenched. I was afraid this fiasco would never end. All because I forgot to swap the laundry this morning. If the pajamas weren’t soaking wet I would let her where the dirty pajamas. All I could do was distract her hopefully into some sort of calm. I asked her if she wanted me to help her into her pajamas or if she wanted to do it herself.
She looked at me if I was crazy. She slammed her teddy on the floor and answered through a scream. “I do it.” I lifted my hands “okay Gwen, do you want to put the shirt or pant’s on first?” She didn’t scream this time she answered. I played this game of questions until she forgot all about the blue PJ’s. I have no Idea if that was what I was supposed to do, but I was glad it was all over. It took another hour to get her to fall asleep. “Is this really what my life has come to? Dragging my kids from event to event? Endless fights and piles of laundry. I feel like I have missed this whole joy of Christmas this year. The memories of tiredness flooded my mind and something in me snapped. Warm tears started to trickle down my checks. I tip toed out of the room, pulling the door closed behind me. The door squeaked just an inch from closing. I froze and listened for movement. She rolled over and I prayed. “NO, just stay asleep, please!” I waited a whole minute before closing the door the rest of the way. Relief overwhelmed me, and the flood gates took over.
I turned and slid down the door. Every thing that had ever overwhelmed me this season flooded my mind. Who knew that all the Christmas parties could sap the celebration from someone’s life. That getting gifts for loved ones would become a chore. Getting somewhere on time took more energy then I had. This whole season felt fake. As I dressed my kids up and I smiled while I talked to my friends. Christmas eve use to be my favorite night of the year. This year I watched it pass through a glazed look. I can’t remember what the lesson was about. I was only happy that I got Gwen to choir practice on time. Nothing felt special this year, in fact it felt more like a hassle. What have I come to?
Something touched my shoulder and I flinched. My husband was on the floor next to me. His eyes streaked with concern. “Honey are you okay? I said your name three times and you didn’t stir.” He paused then wiped the tears off my face. I wasn’t sure what to say, I wasn’t even really sure what was going on myself. All I could do was tuck my face into his shoulder. I knew he wanted to ask more questions. To do something, but he held back and we sat on the floor for a good fifteen minutes. Watching the lights on the tree twinkle. When my breathing slowed and I felt warmed by his embrace I posed the question. “Why has Christmas felt more like a burden then a delight this year? I felt like my heart was growing hard and bitter. I keep staring at the lights hoping it would spark some sort of magic. That singing Christmas carols would cause a well spring of joy. It never did.”
He let out a breath and grabbed my hand. “I get what you mean. This year I panicked about weather or not we could afford to get presents. If this season would pass and I never once feel the spirit of Christmas. It felt wrong to not be transformed by the celebration. I felt like I grew bitter the deeper we went into the season. I wonder if that’s the point.” I pulled away and looked at him straight in the eyes. “For Christmas to break us? I don’t think that is the point.” He looked away, staring at the tree. His face was still, telling me he was wrestling through his thoughts. “No, not exactly.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I think suffering is connected to Christmas. To be honest I haven’t worked through it yet. Probably the reason I haven’t talked about it, anyways. I wonder if it’s connected to the fall of man?”
“What, but the story of Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth. How would that be connected to the fall of man?” He turned towards me, his eyes unchanging. The way they did when he shared what was on his heart. You knew he wasn’t trying to teach you something or show off his knowledge, but genuinely let you in. He said with a matter of fact, “Because the fall is why He had to come. I think Christmas is the bridge of the past and the future events. Our human suffering was the result of our sin. Jesus came so we wouldn’t have to be slaves to our human behavior…” His eyes furrowed, “So that..” I chimed in and leaned against him again. “So that we could be redeemed. Have I ever mentioned how much I loved that word? That who I am now doesn’t always have to be me.”
He smiled, “yes, and Christmas points to that redemption. I think I tend to think about that part, but this year I realized it point’s to something else as well. That He is coming again. When He comes there will be no more sorrow or suffering. I think that was what I was trying to get at. Christmas points to our need for a savior, and him coming again. When he will bring everything into completion.” A few minutes passed in the still silence. He stood up and reached down to me. I took his hand and we walked into the living room. This time watching the lights on the Christmas tree from our couch. Hot coco warming our hands and our thoughts warming our hearts. As I stared at the tree I began to understand with out understanding what I understood. Or I did I understand, but wasn’t sure how to put it into words. I leaned further into my husbands embrace. I felt the need to express just a few words. “Our suffering points to the joy of Him coming again. That’s why we celebrate, things won’t always be this way. Suffering points to the need, and Christmas points to the answer. This is not the end, but only the beginning. That He is coming again!”