I’m sure by this time everything is ready in your home. All the gifts have been bought and are beautifully wrapped and tucked under the tree, which is also perfectly decorated with brightly colored ornaments, not one of them out of place. Your whole house is perfectly clean. All the family members you hoped would be coming have arrived safe and sound and everyone is getting along perfectly. You are the envy of your neighborhood with your perfectly decorated house where twinkling white lights adorn your perfectly landscaped trees and bushes out front. Everything is perfect. Chestnuts are roasting by the open fire and Jack Frost is nipping at your nose. Yuletide carols are being sung by the fire……
Yeah, right! Okay, let’s stop the music!
Yes, I’d like to light up my fireplace but it’s going to be 82 degrees on Christmas Day. We bought a beautiful tree from our youth but now it’s tipping precariously forward. The house is a mess with half rolls of wrapping paper scattered on the floor. I found the perfect gift for someone but now I’m not so sure so I’ll probably have to make another trip to the mall. I wish the whole family was here, but my youngest son and his wife are in Virginia, Beth’s parents and siblings are up north and my sisters live near Orlando. I wanted to put more lights up on the outside of the house this year but time got away from me.
Well, you get the idea…and I suspect you understand.
Christmas is coming. There’s nothing we can do about the calendar. What we do have control over is how each of us spiritually frames these days ahead, the spiritual attitude we bring. And it’s a lesson not just for Christmas but for the whole year. Because life is never perfect, is it? Life instead is a work in progress. Some days we burn the Christmas cookies and some days they come out just right. Sometimes we love the gift of today and sometimes we just want to return it and move on to the next day. We would be happier people if we accepted this truth and were at peace with life just as it is, even with all its imperfections. That’s life.
That first Christmas long ago certainly wasn’t perfect. A teenage girl named Mary with a very unplanned pregnancy. An earthly husband named Joseph who puts aside his hurt and embarrassment and stands beside his beloved. An exhausting eighty mile donkey ride from Nazareth to Bethlehem, arriving only to find every room is booked so the birthing room will have to a stable with animals. Unkempt, smelly shepherds crashing into the delivery room after the baby is born. And three uninvited wise men who show up with gold, frankincense and myrrh instead of something more practical like diapers and food. Sounds rather imperfect, doesn’t it?
As the poet Max Ehrmann wrote in “Desiderata”, “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive [God] to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
It’s a beautiful world. It’s a beautiful life. It’s a beautiful Christmas. But it’s always imperfect. Never perfect. That’s the truth I hope to find gift-wrapped under my tree this year. Have a Merry…imperfect…Christmas!
You are loved,