One year, I almost ordered 300 Christmas cards from, “The Carter family.”
We are not the Carter family.
Every year, I chase this elusive idea of a perfect Christmas.
In my scenario, all gifts (and I mean all) are purchased by December 15th at the very latest.
One day of baking suffices for all the places and people who require me to give them creatively arranged sugar.
No child ever asks me to help them get a gift for a classmate/outreach/teacher by tomorrow.
All the cards and gifts for friends are doled out early on, leaving plenty of time to simply enjoy the holidays, drink chai latte, and let Alexa play me Christmas carols all day.
I want beautiful family memories, traditions we all love and embrace.
I long for harmonious relationships, the Norman Rockwell family gathered around the fireplace. There is unity, love, and warmth.
But sometimes you almost order cards with someone else’s name on them.
Sometimes you try to make a gingerbread house and it nearly drives you insane.
There are more cookies to make, more gifts to buy, things are out of stock, there are too many parties, and the tree falls over of its own accord (I’m looking at you, tree of 2014).
There’s the awkwardness of unreciprocated gifts and cards, stilted conversations with family members, tiptoeing around the topics we know ruffle feathers.
There is a new empty space at the table.
There are missed flights, disappointed expectations, stressful coordination of schedules and outright painful interactions.
You start to wonder if you could just not participate in Christmas this year.
But there’s still a perfect Christmas to be found.
I’m sure the Christmas story was not what Mary had planned.
She didn’t want to be an unwed mother, traveling during her last month of pregnancy, forced to give birth in the stench of animals, far from her family.
Joseph never wanted the stigma of his fiancé being pregnant.
He didn’t ask for the hassle of traveling to his hometown.
He wouldn’t have chosen to become a refugee in Egypt to protect his son.
But this is how God orchestrated sending his son to us. And in the end, it was all good, because we got Jesus.
We do not owe the world a beautifully decorated house or a slew of Christmas gifts.
We can send them a picture that claims we are someone else, and they will still know who we are.
The tree can be lopsided. We can skip parties.
Say no to the strained relationships because they make it too hard to focus on enjoying Jesus.
Go ahead and risk what others will think if you don’t participate in sending Christmas cards or go to another party because your soul needs time to breathe instead.
Step away from the bustle and let him speak to you.The perfect Christmas is one where we are lost in the wonder of what he has done, and our souls feel their worth.
It’s a Christmas where we search hard for Jesus, and when we find him, we cling to him like nothing else matters. Then, in a weary world, we can rejoice.
Let’s chase that with more energy than we chase the outward appearance of it.
So let your Christmas be imperfect to make room for him.
Leave off one more gift to enjoy his presence.
It’s ok if the ornaments break because he’s still coming.
Step away from what is trying and rest in his peace.
Let yourself soak in the reality that you are loved more than life.
Look for him, and you will find the perfect Christmas.