Thursday, December 17, 2009
Isn’t that what Advent is all about? We are waiting expectantly for the new born King-for the Christ Child who became flesh and dwelt among us. We yearn for THE day..and the night before. We are so geared right now for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We know how many days it is until Christmas. Some know how many hours of shopping time are left. I know people who have no shopping left to do, and others who haven’t even started.
I remember when my children were small, the anticipation was crushing. We lived far away from family and only went home a few times while they were growing up. Every package from faraway places only added to the anticipation. My mother-in-law was quite a stickler for opening presents on CHRISTMAS MORNING…not Christmas Eve, certainly not when they arrived. She always marked the packages in magic marker with the words ‘Do NOT open until December 25’ and other such things.
The presents would go immediately under our tree, which we put up the day after Thanksgiving. Much shaking and wondering what could be in those packages. They would come from other relatives and the pile would grow. Pleas to open just one present were constant.
I believe that Christmas happens daily and in our hearts, so I never cared so much when those gifts were opened, much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin. I don’t think my children ratted me out, I think she just knew. I let Jamie and Annie open gifts before Christmas. Usually not before the 20th (although why I picked that date out as an okay date to open gifts is a mystery to me), but often daily after that. It just didn’t matter so much to me.
I know that my friends were aghast. I was the mother who made it hard for all the others. Along with my gift-opening non-compliance with THE RULES, we didn’t have Santa at our house. We weren’t evangelical about it. I promised all sorts of consequences of biblical proportion if my children told other children that Santa didn’t really bring their gifts. It was sort of our little secret. But people knew that we didn’t have Santa and we were THAT family who didn’t believe. My pastor’s wife once asked me why I ruined Christmas for my children and just what our focus was if we didn’t have Santa. I shrugged my shoulders and offered a timid, “Baby Jesus in the manger?” which she wasn’t even buying. Ruined Christmas? Really?
This year, memories of Christmas past have flashed past my eyes and I can almost feel those precious hands on my face and those sweet voices asking, “Momma, is it EVER going to be Christmas?” or the year I asked Jamie what he wanted for Christmas and he told me he really had everything he needed…lets just get some new toys for Annie (he was 4). Annie at 13 months in the most precious pajamas you ever saw at the midnight service with her white whispy hair and huge blue eyes, saying (loudly) “yight” every time the word “light” was said in the service. Their eyes when we were in temporary quarters over Christmas and I bought a small tree and decorated it with our most precious ornaments and they applauded because we were having Christmas…even in the TLQ. One year, as we were moving at Christmas, I flew ahead to take possession of our household goods so that they wouldn’t go into storage. We had one of those amazing door-to-door moves. They stayed at our old duty station and rode to our new home with their Daddy, with our live Christmas tree tied to the top of the car. We used it in both homes that year. So many wonderful times.
My anticipation this year is quite different. I am and have been mostly at home alone during Advent. Rocket Man is traveling. He has been home every weekend, but gone during the week. The thing I am waiting on expectantly this year is his return.
And while I still believe that Christmas truly happens in my heart, despite my geographical location or my circumstances…I am sure that the lights will be just a bit brighter, the music more harmonious and my joy in earthly things more complete when he steps off that plane on Saturday night and I know that he has come home to stay…at least through the holidays.
Having the earthly expectation this year has made me cherish the spiritual aspects of Advent all the more. I have had more time alone to ponder the past year and be so very thankful for all the blessings it has brought.
Along with all the children I know, those who are young and those who are young at heart…I am longing for Christmas Day. But more than that I am longing for Saturday night when my heart becomes whole…when order is restored in MolliWorld…when Prince Edmund comes home.