Embracing the Imperfection at Christmas

Embracing the Imperfection at Christmas

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

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Why Santa Didn’t Visit Our House

Why Santa Didn't Come to Our HouseWhen my first son was born we made the decision that Santa wouldn’t come to our house. This was a difficult decision to explain to others. Family and friends just couldn’t believe we would do such a thing. I understand that it does sound rather Scrooge like, but I honestly don’t believe my boys suffered any lasting damage.

Naturally our decision didn’t have much of an impact until my son was about three. The first couple of years he didn’t really understand about Santa, so it wasn’t an issue.

Then on his third Christmas he began to notice the Santas at the mall and on Christmas paraphernalia. At that point he started to ask questions. I tried to distract him with stories about the original St. Nicholas, but my son could only be sidetracked for so long. Eventually the dreaded question was asked. [Read more…]

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Choosing to Connect- Emotional Cement

Choosing to Connect -Emotional CementEditors note: This is a guest post from Joanna McCaffrey. It is part of the series Choosing to Connect. If you would like to participate click here for details.

Over to Joanna…..

We have precious few opportunities to be together as a family. I’m working full time and Daddy is now taking some jobs, so our son Little F spends more and more time with grandparents. I am grateful that we have the opportunity to leave him with family rather than pay for care, but I’d love to be able to spend more time with him myself. [Read more…]

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How to Enjoy Advent – Some Simple Ideas

Simple Advent ActivitiesAdvent is one of my favorite seasons. It provides a quiet oasis of peace in the midst of the Christmas craziness. Advent invites us to stop and take a breath. Instead of wishing the time away we can slow down the season. Savor it and embrace the ritual of preparations.

When my boys were still home I usually had elaborate plans for Advent, but these tended to slip past me in the hustle of busy family life. Still we always found time to enjoy some simple traditions that didn’t take a lot of time and preparation. And that worked really well for us.

I have gathered together a few simple Advent activities. None of them require a lot of preparation or expense. The first Sunday of Advent is almost upon us, so easy and simple is good!

Have fun. Celebrate. Enjoy the season, but don’t overwhelm your schedule. The idea is to make memories and encourage family connections, not create extra stress! Pick one or two ideas and then enjoy a simple and meaningful Advent. [Read more…]

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