I have two short stories today to finish up my Christmas Capades. Both of the stories involve moving to a new town. I’ll start with the most recent.
When our three daughters were teenagers, we moved to a new town. We knew it was a hard time to make a move so I was thrilled when my oldest daughter came home and asked to join an organization called Symphony Belles. The Belles handed out programs and ushered at the local symphony events and would also learn manners and leadership skills. So we signed up and bought the LBD – Little Black Dress.
The Symphony Belles planned a Christmas party but I wasn’t aware of it until about 4pm on a Sunday night – the night of the 6:00 party. At 4pm, a frantic daughter informed me she needed a Christmas ornament to take to the party for the exchange. And her friend needed one too.
We ran to Hallmark. Closed. Another store. Closed. And another. Closed. We were running out of time. As a last resort, I dashed into a Dollar General and got two $3 plastic ornaments that lit up with changing colors. To say my daughter was horrified that she (and her friend) would have to take such gaudy ornaments to a “high society’ event is an understatement.
Just a little note: I prided myself on having emergency supplies on hand. I had cabinets stocked with folders, folders with pockets, folders with pockets and brads, folders without brads but with pockets, and assortment of binders in different colors and sizes, poster-board, construction paper and even tri-fold poster-board.
But Christmas ornaments weren’t in my stash. They are now.
Back to the story.
My daughter wrapped up her ugly ornament and took off for the party hosted by one of the town’s most well known woman. HORRIFIED.
Guess what? When they did the ornament exchange, the two Dollar Store plastic ornaments are the ones the girls kept “stealing.” High School girls had little use for Waterford or mercury glass ornaments. Blinking, rubbery ornaments were the rage.
My daughter was the Belle of the ball, I mean, party.
When I was ten years old, my family of 6 plus a dog, moved from the South to the Pacific Northwest. We left our big home where each kid had our own room and a big backyard. There were some delays in getting into our new house so we moved into a home where we shared rooms and the yard was about the size of a card table. The cramped quarters living arrangement was supposed to be temporary but lasted 18 months. After a few months my teenage sister used tape to make a line down the middle of our room and told me I could only cross to quickly get something out of our closet. But that’s probably a story for another day – or not.
Because we were only supposed to be in the temporary home…temporarily, most of our things were in storage. That proved challenging as Christmas approached. My mom didn’t have a roasting pan for the turkey. She wanted to bake banana bread to give as gifts but didn’t have loaf pans so everyone got a coffee tin shaped loaf that year. The Christmas tree and ornaments were stored away.
My parents put a positive spin on our Christmas décor dilemma. We would have an old-fashioned Christmas! Off to the tree lot we went to get a real tree.
Harkening back to days gone by, we strung popcorn and cranberries as garland for the tree. I drew my best 5thgrader star on a white paper plate. My brother cut it out and we covered it with aluminum foil. My dad taped it to the top of the tree.
We stood back and admired our first handmade Christmas tree and I think we are all proud of our accomplishment.
And the next day, we went to church.
When we came home, all of the popcorn-cranberry garland on the bottom half of the tree was gone! The little dog I won at Vacation Bible School (now, that’s another story for another day) ate the garland!
That year, our tree only had decorations on the top half of the tree. But we didn’t care. Presents still fit under it.
My family has a saying we coined during that 18 months – “Are we having fun or making memories?” Making memories was usually the unanimous response.
What do these two stories have in common? Expectations.
I often go into the holiday season with high expectations. Expectations about all I will accomplish. Expectations of family time together. Expectations of cozy nights in front of a fire with family laughing and sipping cocoa while playing a game or working a puzzle. Expectations of having enough money to buy the gifts. Expectations of making cookies and taking them to neighbors and friends.
My expectations are not always met. Usually they aren’t. But those things are not what makes Christmas…Christmas. Christmas is remembering the importance of a baby boy being born to save mankind.
No matter what ornaments we have, or don’t have, to adorn our trees – or even if we have a tree or gifts under it, Jesus was still born over 2000 years ago. That is the most important expectation of all.
May you take time to let the expectations fall away and focus on remembering the birth of our Savior.
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). Isaiah 7:14
He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them. Luke 25-7
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” Luke 2:10-14