He asks is something bothering you?
She says I am worrying about three things
Oh, he brightens, only three?
His shoulders rise and fall in what might pass for a shrug but translates as:
I have tons more than that! Never occurs to him
Could be anything.
I drove by the outlet mall on Black Friday; people were parked on the grassy margins, everywhere.
I go to the store; the area by the checkout is bunkered with coffee makers and candy canes.
I see pictures of Santa Claus everywhere. Movies about with saccharine messages about the “Christmas spirit.”
Like that is a real thing.
The truth is a poor teenager in a barn laboring to bring forth a child. If Santa did not give Jesus a decent hotel room to be born in, who are we to expect xboxes and flat screen tvs?
We are defined by gods and idols or…we are defined by that little child in the manger.
Somethings are either/or propositions:
Life or death
Angels or demons
Truth or fiction
A small tribe on the outpost of history waited for thousands of years for news of their King, the God who saves.
And it has taken us a cool 50 years to forget he is the reason for this celebration–the only Christmas gift that will matter forever.
I once gave someone I loved a copy of Michael Ondaatje’s novel Anil’s Ghost.
I am not sure she read it, but I know she did not appreciate it because she told me–
you sent me a book when you should have sent a card!
I am not a card gal. I wrote Fierce Angels as a Christmas card, Just Words was a wedding gift and Just was a PSA.
I used to tell friends I did not do Christmas cards because ours would be crazy weird. Really depressing.
But then I believe as humans our lives are all marred by grief and pain. It is this very reason we need the wee child in the manger.
He came to save us from ourselves.
Today I got a Christmas card from a precious friend. We know each other only because both of us have lost daughters and grieve for them.
Her friendship is treasure to me. The gift of Magi.
I truly believe Christmas is the hardest season of the year. It is a characteristic of humans–our ability to make the most joyful event in human history into a frenetic, stressful, lonely race for the trappings of glee without the core of joy.
So this month I am giving myself the gift of stories.
My favorite storyteller was my paternal grandfather whom we called Papaw. My favorite thing about Christmas was his stories, his kitchen. For a nomadic military brat, his house, his kitchen was home.
Flawed, aging, ordinary home. But something about the combination of warm food aromas–coffee, pinto beans, brisket, pies–still comes back to me through all these years.
Home. The very place Jesus left to save us.