Friday, December 16, 2016

Avoiding Christmas Madness

I am sorry to report there will be no Christmas cards mailed from me this year. I will post lots of beautiful pictures and verses I have painted all the way up until Christmas, but I will not be mailing any cards. If this makes you stop sending me cards, so be it. I do not mind receiving cards, but there is something that always irks me when I get a card from someone whom I have not heard from even once all year long, and then they send a Christmas card. Often it has one personal line on it: To Arvo and Vicky....and then Love Whomever.

Maybe I am just a Scrooge. It strikes me as insincere, or as a dutiful, expected social grace. Perhaps my annoyance is because I don't have social grace. I don't know. I just figure I am more important than one quick impersonal line once a year. Why bother?

Maybe I am just hitting the crochety stage of life. Or maybe this year was such a difficult one that I just don't have the energy to make and mail cards. (I never buy store bought cards. Never. I make all the cards I it adds a lot of work to an already overwhelming task.) Maybe I am just rationalizing, since last year I didn't have cancer, and I didn't mail cards last year either.

The season is supposed to center on Jesus. We all know how most of the Christmas hoopla, spending, and frantic pace has nothing to do with Jesus. It becomes a long list of duties that stress and destroy the wonder of the quiet, powerful least it does for me. I have removed myself more and more from all the Christmas madness. None of my kids will be around this year, so that makes it easier to just let all that Christmas Crazy go.

I have a tree set up and pine boughs on our mantle. That is the extent of my decorations. I made no cookies, except a batch that I mailed to my mom. I sent her her favorite cookies, as I do every year. She made wondrous cookies while we were growing up. I am returning the favor now that making those cookies is too much for her.

Christmas. A baby was born to an unwed mother who was poor, frightened, and barely out of childhood herself. She could not possibly have understood what was happening to her, yet she trusted the God she loved that whatever He brought her way was Good and even Necessary.

C.S. Lewis says imagine what it cost the God who created the universe to come to us as a defenseless baby. He says it would be like us becoming a slug. Yet God chose to deliver us from evil with the most unlikely source possible. Unbelievable, really.

I am a writer of both fiction and nonfiction. My nonfiction stories are much less believable than the things I make up. If you want to convince the reader to trust your story, you have to make it plausible when you write fiction. No such standard is necessary with nonfiction. In fact, the best stories are the ones that are true...but so incredible that if they weren't true, no one would ever believe they happened!

Which is part of why I know the story of Jesus is true.

But back to Christmas cards and Christmas madness. I'm opting out because I think part of God's message in sending a little baby as savior of the whole world is that we have lost a sense of the innocent, vulnerable simplicity, peace, and miracle of knowing God. I am hoping to recapture that in stillness, quietly contemplating the baby so humbly born.

Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

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