The holiday season provides a lot of time for fullness. Thanksgiving flows into Christmas and we can hardly remember what it felt like to have an empty stomach (or buttoned pants). The predominant theme of Christmas in the West is plenty. We have plenty. Presents spill out from under our Christmas trees. Our parties have food left over to last us into January. And we aren't the only ones who know what plenty feels like.
We have a Little People nativity that sits under our tree. Despite our best efforts, it rarely is all in order. Sometimes the animals are sitting on the dining room table. Sometimes baby Jesus is riding in a dump truck. Almost always the pieces are scattered all over our house, only to be returned to the angelic scene after the kids are in bed. Our nativity scene is pretty disheveled, which in many ways is a microcosm of our current season of life.
That first Thanksgiving was hard, so hard that when I think about it I still feel the pain that flowed through my weary body. I remember how I felt that first Thanksgiving, achingly aware that my body was empty. Empty of a baby that I wanted so badly. Empty of the hope of a baby any time soon. I was surrounded by pregnancy in every sphere of my life, and I could barely choke out the words “I’m thankful” when we all shared our Thanksgiving joy around the dinner table. It felt like a lie. I didn’t know how to be thankful when living felt like death and tears came too easily for my comfort.
I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I suppose I don't like the disappointment when I don't meet my own impossible standards. But I do like to reflect on the previous year and look forward to the one ahead of me. As the year turned from 2014 to 2015 I was reading through the stories of the kings of Judah and Israel in Kings and Chronicles. It's hardly reading that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside as you start a new year.
Last week, I talked about waiting well this Advent season. But Advent is not just about waiting well, it's also about trusting well. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
I mentioned last week that I am going to be writing a brief series on the wonder of Christmas. The Gospel accounts of Christ's birth never cease to amaze me. Every year I find myself overwhelmed by all that God reveals to us through these short verses in the Bible.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas so much that I have been known to bust out the Christmas music in October. My husband loves Thanksgiving, so he makes sure we don't let his favorite holiday get eclipsed by the Christmas creep. If it were up to me, we would start spreading the Christmas cheer November 1. But alas.
Everyone hates the day after Christmas. It's such a letdown isn't it? After weeks of hype, preparing, wrapping, and singing, December 26th signifies that life goes back to normal until the next Christmas season. Growing up, I was always borderline depressed when December 26th rolled around. It always seemed like it came as fast as it went. I spent so much time anticipating Christmas that once December 26th came I just felt so defeated. As I've gotten older it's been harder and harder for me to be excited about Christmas like I used to be. And when I finally feel like I have the Christmas spirit I am immediately met with it's sudden departure.
The book of Job ministered to me greatly in our season of pregnancy loss and infertility. I would remind myself of God’s goodness and power over my own fragile life as I read about the life of Job. It was only through his suffering that he saw God for who he is. And I wanted (and still want) to be that person as well. Job 1:21 was a lifeline for me. God has the authority to give and he has the authority to take away. Everything I receive, whether good or evil, is ultimately for my good and greater joy.