It's here! Christmas time is finally here! (Or is it still Christmas from 2011? Things roll so quickly these days that I sometimes wonder.)
Our decorations are back in place; three parties are completed; family communion at GGC tonight and tomorrow night; already feeling guilty about Christmas cards that haven't been mailed; "It's a Wonderful Life" has been viewed; we're humming White Christmas even though it's 81 degrees here................. Yep, Christmas Central in full swing!
Frank and I looooooovvvve Christmas!
We started dating just before Christmas. We married the following December 30th, decorating with Christmas trees and poinsettias. Meagan was born December 20th eight years later. We have multiple Christmas Miracles that are part of our family story. Most of our traditions revolve around Christmas - ornaments, foods, movies and music.
Christmas is MAJOR at the Hawley house!
With all that emphasis on Christmas you would think December 25th would be kinda sacred for us. But we've seldom ever opened gifts with our children in our home on that date. For most of our lives we've lived far away from our extended families. Road trips have almost always been part of the plan.
And now over half our immediate family also need to be with family in eastern North Carolina and central New York! Consequently, Christmas Day for us is unlikely to ever fall on December 25th. Our children will either be with extended family or on their way to extended family or celebrating with their own little family.
And that's okay with us.
We've celebrated as early as December 18th and as late as January 10th. We've read the Christmas story together in Florida, North Carolina, and even West Virginia.
Christmas has nothing to do with the date or location. It has everything to do with the heart!
I read in Hosea this morning how intentional God has been about relationship with us. Relationship is His focus, His delight, His work, His reward. So, I take my cue from the One who initiated this marvelous season.
He put His very best effort into building a bridge of relationship with us. He sent His Son to a humble stable, to a woman embroiled in controversy, to a world that largely ignored the Gift. Marked the moment with a star, a choir of angels and some terrified shepherds. He gave lavishly to show that His heart is for us.
How can I do anything less?
I know of people who suffer and struggle and strangle relationships by demanding that a certain date and a singular location be the one and only opportunity to celebrate Christmas properly. Christmas, for them, must resemble a Norman Rockwell painting with all participants in perfect order or else all is lost.
Today I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people..........
If Christmas originated in a sheep stall far from Mary's hometown with a questionable cast of characters, perhaps God was sending a message that would resonate with the transient, imperfect people groups of the 21st Century. (Yes, I know - run-on sentence extraordinaire!)
Leave the perfect painting for the wall! And embrace your cast of characters in the many locations and on whatever dates He may provide. Therein lies peace for all men; I promise!
(Wow, this post took a totally different turn from the road I first started on. Just have to trust that someone needed the message. I'm also mindful that right now, all our kids live near us. We call it frosting time as we never expected to have that opportunity. We mark the bonus and gladly share them any available opportunity with the Smiths and Schrecks! Blessings on your celebration plans!)