It’s the twelfth day of Christmas and my tree is still up. So are most of our decorations too, although I have started to collect those by the stairs to the basement, where they sit waiting to be put away. The clutter is starting to get to me and I’m longing for sparse, cleaned out spaces. Yet I keep hoping for a few more peaceful, reflective moments by the tree in the dark with only the tree lights bringing illumination – so up it stays.
Our Christmas was normal in the sense that there was much beauty. Watching the golden glow over everyone’s face from the candles and the vibrations of the voices singing silent night acapella during Christmas Eve service always leaves a holy lump in my throat. We went cross country skiing in the crisp light, shining half way through the trees in the woods where I feel so alive. My kids asked to buy thoughtful gifts for each other with their own hard earned money. There was no bickering. Aaron made an amazing dinner. I was once again left filled with awe over God come down as a baby – try looking at a baby and not believing in good, in hope, in miracles.
Our Christmas was normal in the sense that there was much brokenness. My extended family had to cancel our plans for a celebration together – our first in five years because my mom’s recovery from her last surgery related to a tumor found this summer was much rougher than expected. Once we had come to some sort of resolve about my mom, and our loss of family plans, my dad collapsed unexpectedly doing Christmas Eve church. (He’s a pastor have I said that here before?) He spent the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in ICU while his heart kept slowing much too slow, so slow they had to encourage it to keep going, awaiting pacemaker surgery that will keep him alive on Boxing Day.
My guess is your Christmas was somewhat the same. Your brother in law talked obnoxious politics. You had time with a special loved one who lives far away or who might not be around much longer. Someone drank way too much, way too often. Reading about the grinch’s heart expanding mended your own – just a bit. You had to host, or you couldn’t.
There was that moment when you connected under the full moon with something holy. You had to see people you are related too, instead of the people your heart yearned for. Your kids loved all your simple traditions and told you that they were just so happy being together. Someone you love is sick or abused or lonely or dead. You received a gift that showed how known you are. Something(s) like this.
Because this is the normal isn’t it, even or maybe especially at Christmas. Beauty and brokeness all around. Heaven and hope mixed with sadness and disappointment and loss. Full moons and bright stars and a refugee baby who holds promise of kingdom (not yet fully) come.
I think that is why my tree is still up – I want a few more days to ponder that promise of love came down to bring new life in the post holiday season stillness. I want a few more days to ponder how much I have and yet how much I still need the grace of that promise. I need a few more days to re-believe that one day all will be counted for beauty.