“I got the biggest one!” I clapped my hands over his mouth.
First, we showed up 15 minutes late to the Christmas Eve service. And now this.
The room was light enough for our tardiness to be noticed by all, yet dark enough for my phone screen to shine like the Star of Bethlehem itself when I texted Dennis, who was dropping off the children, our approximate location.
When he arrived, now 20 minutes into the service, the kids were in tow (no childcare for this service). The gentleman at the row’s end gave a “no room in the inn” glare as we began passing kids to laps.
It didn’t help that this was not our church; not a familiar face in sight.
I hardly felt at home.
“I got the biggest one!”
The bread bowl had just been passed. My eight-year-old was announcing his spoil – a communion cracker ten times the size of any other.
He continued. Even louder.
“I’m sooooo hungry!”
#momhands #momshhhh #momglare
At this point, I was sure the pastor would stop the process, give a lecture on proper procedure and everyone’s Christmas would be ruined. #momfail
And then it hit me. It was 6:30 and those little lips hadn’t touched food since Santa pancakes at 10 am.
When we ditched our plans to eat a big & late breakfast followed by an early dinner, I forgot to bulk them up with snacks before the 5:30 (well, for us, 5:45) service.
I lowered the cracker down to his lap and told him to wait just a few minutes until it was “time.”
The kid gets it. He gets the Jesus thing (100% more than I did at age eight). He understands the significance of the birth and the ramifications of the death. This connects for him. He values the Jesus focus. He wonders of the wonder and glories in the glory.
But, the kid was hungry. (And to be fair, the communion thing isn’t so familiar. Typically, he’s felt-boarding and foosballing it with the other graders.) i can imagine his relief to spot sustenance in the midst of his tummy-grumbling pew-sitting.
He wanted it. For the wrong reasons. But, he wanted it.
He needed it. More than he knew. But, he needed it.
He ate it. At the wrong time. But, he ate it.
We Want Christmas
We over-gift. We over-bake. We overdo. We overdecorate. We overeat. We overwhelm.
We fill empty days with parties, empty spaces with lights, empty airs with carols.
We Secret-Santa, we White-Elephant, we Minute-to-Win-It.
We wear ugly sweaters. We hide stuffed elves. We make houses of ginger-cookies. We bring the outdoors in and the indoors out.
We celebrate. For the wrong reasons, perhaps. But, we celebrate.
We Need Christmas
Now, we can play the chicken-egg game on Christmas all we want. Jesus’ birthday replacing a pagan holiday annual festival, likely patterned by and rooted in Jewish traditions established by the Hebrew God himself. The murkiness of the origins, lumped with the loosely-passed-down traditions of Saint Nicholas, make for a popular holiday.
We need a magical season.
We need an excuse to connect with folks we love – both near and far.
We need something to work towards, to plan for, to engage in.
We need opportunities to give.
We need a break from routine.
We need a change in tune, a shift in scenery, a recall of focus.
We need to be in touch with our joy…and our sadness. Our hope…and our despair. Our excitement…and our grief. We need to press in and express.
We need a time to go beyond what we normally buy, eat, give, do, say and feel. We need it. More than we know. But, we need it.
We want it. We need it. And we participate.
We Do Christmas
We jump in with both feet. We each do it our own particular way, with our own traditions, with our own spin, with our own limits, with our own attitudes. But, we do it. We engage or disengage. But, even in disengaging, we are reacting to it all. One way or another, it’s a participation.
We eat of it. Perhaps, in the wrong way. But, we eat of it.
Christmas is For Us
I don’t know how this Christmas landed on you. I don’t know how you wanted it. I don’t know how you felt you needed it. I don’t know how you ate of it.
But, I do know this.
We were each created to love and be loved, to know and be known. There is legitimate want for the many things a Christmas brings – the commercial of it all and the spiritual of it all. The hope, the provision, the gifting, the story, the togetherness, the reflection, the abundance, the expectancy, the consistency, the surprise, the wonder.
We have great want.
In the world we’ve been born into, the need is insurmountable. There is emotional need, physical need, spiritual need. Broken families, homes and hearts. Tainted water, relationships and dreams. Empty tummies, wallets and beds.
Hate makes loud sounds.
Insecurity grasps in futility.
The world lacks in humility.
Everyone out for number one.
Folks looking for nothing but fun.
Hardly trying to believe the best.
Judgment, blame and shame do the rest.
We have great need. Collectively and individually.
With great want (even unwittingly) and great need (even under-realized), one would expect great participation. With Christmas all but packed away, many would call this season over. But, with our great want and great need still unmet by great margin, I would say, we are only getting started.
No matter what route your Christmas-participation took, we stand at a crossroads for how we position our hearts from here. Positioned for trying the same things, hoping for a different result? Or positioned toward Jesus, expecting his faithfulness?
Want him, whatever your reason.
Need him, however you can recognize it.
Eat of him, take what he has to offer, participate in his relationship, no matter the timing.
You might just find what you want and need where, when and how you least expected it.