Fifteen years ago our family trekked across Canada to take up residence in a new home. We arrived just before Christmas and attended our new church a few days later. The children of the community were presenting their Christmas pageant. My boys were enthusiastically welcomed and pressed into service as extra shepherds.
This meant I was free to go into the church, sit back and enjoy the service. Bliss!
The children began to act out the well-loved story of Jesus’ birth. It was a wonderful retelling. Not because it was a perfect production, but because of some delightfully unscripted moments that occurred as the story unfolded.
The first of these moments came as Mary and Joseph made their grand entrance. Joseph took two steps down the aisle, tripped over his robe and fell to the floor with a spectacular crash. Joseph jumped up with a grin, but Mary’s reaction was priceless. She put her hands on her hips, gave an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes as if to say, “the things I have to put up with.”
The next moment came when the angels were appearing to the shepherds. One of the littlest angels (aged 5) discovered that if you climbed onto the communion rail, carefully laid down, and held out your arms you could pretend to be flying. And much to my delight she did just that.
But the highlight for me came when the wise ones arrived to present the gifts to the baby Jesus. One of the gifts was a treasure chest full of beads. It was placed beside baby Jesus. While the narrator told the story I noticed Joseph lean forward to touch some of the beads. Immediately Mary reached out, slapped his hand away and hissed, “they’re not for you, they’re for the baby.”
I laughed so hard.
It was the best pageant ever!
It wasn’t a perfect production by any stretch of the imagination. It was full of unscripted and unexpected moments. It may not have been perfect, but it was real. Joseph made mistakes and Mary got exasperated. She was also a little bossy and ungracious at times. Does it sound familiar? It should, because these things happen even in the best of families
And despite those unscripted moments the story still got told and the birth of Jesus was celebrated. Which was, after all, why we were there in the first place.
Christmas is almost upon us and you may be feeling frazzled. You may have a “to do” list that seems never ending. Perhaps you had a certain Christmas in mind, with beautiful decorations and homemade gifts, but the reality is nothing like what you envisioned. Family members make mistakes and get exasperated with each other. You find yourself becoming a little bossy and ungracious as the stress mounts. Your dreams of a perfect Christmas start to unravel a little.
This Christmas will be very different for our family. We had made plans for all the boys to come and celebrate with us the weekend before Christmas. A few days ago I heard from my middle son. An unexpected change in his work schedule means that he will not be able to come at the weekend. This is the first time we haven’t all been able to gather together over the holidays. I was terribly disappointed at first. I do love it when the boys are together. I enjoy the camaraderie and energy they bring with them. It will not be quite the same with one boy missing.
Still as I have discovered Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. I have decided to embrace the imperfection, because that’s the way things go in families. We will see my middle son later on next week. I will treasure the moments I have with each of my boys while they are here. I will get to do the mom thing and spoil them a little. And most importantly I can still celebrate the holiday with each of my boys. Which is, after all, why we are gathering together in the first place. It may not be perfect, but it will still be Christmas.
What are you looking forward to the most this Christmas? When have you had to make unexpected changes to your Christmas plans? Do you find it challenging to embrace the imperfection?
Photo credit: Baby Jesus by Hubert K on flickr