This is the fourth week of Advent. Each week, leading up to Christmas, we pause in remembrance of the birth of our Savior. In some households a candle will be lit in recognition of each of the Advent themes. This week we consider LOVE and the birth of Jesus Christ.
USUALLY, our family enjoys our various holiday traditions, “usually”….but SOMETIMES, I drag my family squirming and pouting through the festivities. There were the numerous years when “tree getting” was a less than Norman Rockwell inspired endeavor. My sweet memories of Christmas music filled car rides to a tree farm with the kids are coupled with memories of rides with sullen pre-teens, squabbling siblings, and disinterested participants forced to listen to me sing along with Christmas music on the radio.
There have even been glitches in our traditional tree decorating. Traditionally we pour eggnog, bake cookies and decorate the tree the day after Thanksgiving. It is always fun to talk about each ornament’s origin, giggle at the ones with the kid’s baby pictures or preschool crafts, all while listening to Christmas music of course. Admittedly, over the years, we have had a less than enthusiastic tree trimming crew….teens are not always as excited to spend the day around the house/parents. Sometimes our tree trimming tradition was impacted by work schedules or mood swings. But no matter what, we always managed to get it done.
This year was one of THOSE years. I will forever refer to this year’s tree trimming day as “Black Friday”.
It is not important to know WHY there was tension in our home, but suffice to say that certain events had created an atmosphere of frustration, awkwardness, anger, and dismay. The eggnog was poured, the cookies baked and Christmas music filled the house. I desperately tried to make everything normal, although it was far from so. Each of us half-heartedly placed ornaments on the tree in silence, and various degrees of unhappiness. I am amazed we actually got all the ornaments placed on the tree at all. It was a very Black Friday. But God is good.
Eventually, that same day, we gathered in our living room, had necessary conversations, shared, cried, and laughed. Normalcy was restored, well, as “normal” as we can get for us. Later that night, as we sat around the table playing a game, I was especially mindful of the treasure that is my family. I love them so much. I love them when everything is going great. I love them when things seem perfect. I love them when nothing is perfect. I love them when we struggle. I love them when we are broken. I love them with a love that overwhelms me…the kind of love that flows from my tears to my toes.
You should see my tree. Many years, when the kids were small, I would “reposition” the ornaments their little hands had placed on the tree. Once they were nestled in bed, I would balance the ornaments by size, move older/broken ornaments to the back and in general try to make it look perfect. This year, I decided to not touch one single ornament on the tree. Even though the kids are now adults, our “Black Friday” tree trimming resulted in lots of haphazard placement of ornaments. Ornaments are hung backwards, some branches are too full, while other branches are bare and “gasp” a few less desirable ornaments have prominent placement on the front of the tree!
Every evening, I sit and take it all in…I love it! I love it because it reminds me of my imperfect, perfectly wonderful family and I love them.
In the glow of our tree, in the quiet of the night, I can’t help but think about God’s love for us. He loves us when we are doing great. He loves us when we are seemingly perfect. He loves us when we struggle. He loves us when we are broken. He loves us with a love that is overwhelming and flows from His tears to our toes.
This week we celebrate God’s perfect, overwhelming love for His imperfect children.
“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1John 4:10)