The Day After Christmas

The gifts are opened. The food eaten. The house is a disaster. Some return to work, others are left with family (who linger too long or not long enough) before schedules demand a return home. Leftovers are scattered throughout the kitchen. Pesky remnants of wrapping paper stay hidden behind couches and the tree. All that glittered so brightly with the awe of the season yesterday, warm and full of sentiment and memory, seems just a bit tarnished this morning- too garish in the early light and somehow colder. We’re tired, usually a good exhaustion, but spent nonetheless; the yawning reality that the big day, Christmas, has come and gone once again saddens us. And with it the small heartache that reality has already started seeping back in to our lives. If only the feeling, that intangible wonderfulness of the season could last forever. Our hearts yearn to linger in the soft light of the manger for just a bit longer.

Silent night, Holy night. All is calm, all is bright ‘round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild. Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

What a lovely scene.

But just as the day after every child’s birth must come- life continues. Mary awoke to the reality of having just brought a baby into the world. And now life started... or rather continued- with a <slight> new Addition. Life- with all the stress, schedules, messiness, and tomorrows pushes forward despite our best efforts to tarry in yesterdays. If only it could be Christmas forever. After all, no one sings carols about the day AFTER Christmas.

Mary had a new baby to feed, clothe, teach, basically keep alive and healthy- the responsibility of which I’m sure was not lost on her. The reality of her life the day after her Son’s birth must have looked downright terrifying and bleak. Suddenly the lowing of the livestock wasn’t as soothing as it had been the night before. The sweet smell of the fresh straw had been replaced by the iron-laced tinge of blood and animal dung. Last night’s warmth of the cozy cave chilled as the morning light seeped too early through the rafters and slats reminding the new parents that life, indeed, continued around them. The day after Christmas came too soon, too brightly, too loudly. Their sweet, silent night had come and gone. As many times it does for us all. Though we long to replicate those precious days, all too often the worry and stress of our days overshadow the silence of our nights.

And yet Mary and Joseph got to take their little CHRISTmas with them. They walked with their Christmas right out of that stable and carried Him with them for the rest of their lives.

So also can we. The warmth, the glow, the reason for the season as we like to say... IS the Christ child. And the most wonderful gift is not just that He was given to us but more so that we can take Him with us... always, anywhere, forever. The feeling we long for, the silent and holy nights we cherish, are ours to walk in, to rest in.

Knowing this reality, sleep in heavenly peace dear one. Amidst all the days after Christmas, take the Christ with you.

And sleep in heavenly peace.

Ponder and Treasure

Jesus’s birth, as we have heard many times, was not ideal. It was chock-full of unknowns, dirt, mess, and stress; not to mention blood, sweat, and tears! I imagine it came with its fair share of unmet expectations for the very expectant parents. Was he earlier than the due date? Later? The unknown must have weighed on Mary as heavily as the babe in her belly. Is. It. Time. Yet? Are we THERE yet?!?

Where would he be birthed? Where would they stay? Would there be enough warmth, water, food, money, help when the baby came? The responsibility must have plagued the soon-to-be father Joseph.

The two parents, having been told the destiny and identity of their infant son, knowing full well the very child of Yahweh that they were entrusted with- the expectations, the excitement... the weight, the stress, the vast, yawning unknown that stretched before them. All waited with great expectation for the big day. I’m sure plans were talked over then talked over again. Preparations were made, reset, and refined. The birth of the Christ-child needed to be perfect.

Is any of this sounding familiar to anyone else?

Like Mary and Joseph, we plan with great expectation our own Christmas Day. Unlike the parents-to-be, we have a date stamped on our schedules each year. We know the big day. We count down to it with Advent calendars, 12-Days of Christmas songs, and Amazon daily deals. The excitement, the waiting, the plans made for family and friends consumes our agendas. Expectations run high, Christmas needs to be perfect.

And yet, also like Jesus’s birth, most of the time the reality of our circumstances doesn’t nearly match our expectations. Christmas is all too often messy, stressful, and just a bit disappointing. Despite our best laid plans, the expectations just don’t pan out. And just as Mary must have collapsed in exhaustion after birthing her son, bleary-eyed, starving, and dirty, so also we often stumble into December 26th looking slightly worse for the wear.

Awe-struck, dazed, exhausted... totally out of her element... Mary stilled herself. Not long after delivery, scripture tells us, “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Luke‬ ‭2:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

She treasured. She pondered. Amidst the chaos and the stress, the unknown and unmet expectations... surely this wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, no way was this mess okay with God, ‘it wasn’t supposed to be like this...’

Is this sounding familiar to anyone else?

Jesus’s mom treasured and pondered. She wondered at the events. She took it all in. She meditated at what God was doing, how He was working, the glorification of the Father through His son.

Even when none of it made sense, when none of it went according to plan, Mary treasured these happenings. She pondered the strange and wonderful working of God.

This season, as the day of great expectation grows close, rest dear ones. Ponder and treasure the comings and goings of the Season. Make YOUR plan to expect great things... HIS great expectations!