Friday, December 26, 2014

Musings From Christmas Eve

Holidays can be strange if you're married to someone who works in a church (or if you are someone who works in a church, of course).  Nathan was gone all day Christmas Eve, and not home until hours after the girls' bedtimes, so there was no Daddy Reads The Christmas Story or Daddy Lights The Christ Candle or Daddy Helps You Put Baby Jesus In The Manger; instead it was a long day of Mommy Takes Everyone To The Doctor And Wrangles Toddler And Baby Through A Few Last-Minute Errands In The Rain And Everyone Cries A Little.  So it goes.

Nell cried because she wanted cheese for breakfast, and we weren't having cheese for breakfast.  Marie cried because she refuses to sleep these days, or at least, not for more than 45 minutes at a time.

And me?  I cried because the antique iron bed I'd found at a yard sale, the one we'd had sandblasted and painted a beautiful glossy white for Nell for Christmas, the one we'd set up in secret the night before... it suddenly didn't seem like enough.  Thank you, social media, for allowing me to know that other mothers don't just give 'Big Girl Beds' for Christmas, they give entire 'Big Girl Rooms' or 'Big Boy Rooms,' with curtains and rugs and wall hangings and everything all Pinteresty and just so.

I was giving my daughter a bed frame that didn't even have a mattress yet.

It felt like not enough.

I felt like not enough.

* * *

By evening, I wiped away my tears and took the girls to the Christmas Eve service, dressed in sweet Christmas dresses sent to them from their Aunt Emily.  By the time I had them dressed and ready to go, the baby changed and nursed and the toddler pottied and coated and shoed (shod?) and all that, I barely had time to brush my hair, much less dampen and blow-dry it as I had planned to.  I didn't put any makeup on.  And I threw on a corduroy skirt and a sweater that would be easy to nurse in, and out the door we went.

Once at church, I looked around at a sea of reds and greens and holiday plaids, silks and satins and hair bows, and I suddenly felt... well, kind of stupid.  My outfit barely matched.  It might be passable for an ordinary day, but Christmas Eve?  Couldn't I have managed better?  Damp from the rain, I sat in the pew miserably thinking not about the babe in the manger, but about myself.  I wasn't dressed nicely enough for Christmas Eve.  Once again that day, I wasn't enough.

And then it hit me.  How could I be sitting there and missing the point of it all, on Christmas Eve of all days?

My corduroy skirt and thrift store cardigan wasn't enough.

But a silk dress wouldn't have been enough, either.

My face without a trace of makeup wasn't enough.

But perfectly-applied Christmassy red lipstick wouldn't have been enough, either.

My two-year-old smacking her baby sister's curious hand away just as we knelt to receive communion, well, that was hardly enough.

But the sisterly kisses and hand-holding in more peaceful moments wasn't enough, either.

Even small girls -- blurry or not -- in matching Christmas dresses isn't enough.

Even snowflake tights with a ruffle on the bum isn't enough.

{hard to believe, but probably true.}

* * *

How could I have missed it, and at Christmas, of all times?

A bed without a mattress as a Christmas gift for my daughter?

Not good enough.

And yet, the message of Christmas is that somehow, a manger with nothing but straw was good enough.

And now our efforts, meager as they may be, are enough.

Because he came and made it so.

* * *

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die.

Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

1 comment:

  1. So true - and such a comfort in these days when we scrape by and wonder how anything is ever enough.