When Christmas is green
When I was a child growing up in Southern California, I always prayed that it would snow on Christmas Day. This would require a small miracle, of course—but I knew that God could pull it off if he so desired (or if I could sway him). My pleas would commence around Thanksgiving, and might even last through the morning hours of Christmas Day, if I were feeling particularly earnest. However, Christmas temperatures seldom ever dipped below mildly cool. One exceptionally warm Christmas, I watched with disdain as my neighbors played basketball in shorts and tank tops. Sure, it was over eighty degrees that day. But didn’t they at least have the decency to pretend it was cold outside?
I don’t have to explain myself to you, dear Reader. Everyone understands what it means to be “dreaming of a white Christmas.” It is the idyllic, romantic picture of the holiday. Somewhere in the last 2000+ years our image of Christmas morphed from a warm night in a Middle Eastern desert to a snow-filled day where carolers scuttle about in muffs and scarves. As an adult, I did finally experience a few snowy Noels while living in Colorado. But they weren’t as perfect as I thought. I found myself actually yearning for those green California holidays. I had the snow I’d always wanted, but I missed the Carr family (my family of origin) and our detailed litany of Christmas rituals.
I gave up my Christmas fantasies years ago. My dinner table will never look like the one in the magazine, I’ll never have the perfect tree, my extended family may never be fully accounted for in one room, and I will never again get to sing carols in the living room of the house in which I grew up. I will never meet my father-in-law this side of Jordan, and he will never laugh and play with his grandchildren or carve our Christmas turkey. He died, by the way, on Christmas day. My husband, Rob, was 18. His absence is keenly felt in Rob’s heart every year.
But Rob and I have learned to look around us and enjoy what we do have. Which is a lot, by the way.
I suppose Mary was disappointed that she didn’t have a real cradle for her firstborn child. I suppose she regretted the fact that her mother wasn’t there for the birth, that the nursery wasn’t set up, that she didn’t have cute baby booties. It wasn’t the perfect birth scenario a soon-to-be mother imagines. I wonder if Joseph was disappointed, too. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. He hadn’t slept with this young woman yet, and she was giving birth. He couldn’t even secure a room for the night.
And yet, into the imperfection of the first Christmas night came a perfect Savior. Here was the One, the only One, who could restore us both to God and to each other. His entrance was meek, for he came as an infant. And yet, his entrance was wildly invasive. Think of it: God as man. God amongst us. The perfect dwelling with the imperfect.
Into our flawed Christmases, into our failed lives, comes a perfect Savior. Perhaps, indeed, everything is just as it should be.