18 Dec Pausing in the Hodgepodge

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Our Christmas tree is a merry hodgepodge of ornaments.

There are round red and gold bulbs, a few berry sprigs, and gold spears that used to spiral prettily but have now been mangled into odd angles by helping toddler’s hands. There are photo ornaments of my sister and me when we were young, a ceramic Mrs. Claus painted by my late Gran, and memento ornaments from family vacations and Christmas exchanges with friends. There is a snowman s’more ornament related to an inside joke I remember nothing about. There are nine plus ornaments from my mom who found an after-Christmas sale at Hallmark last year and binged on baby’s-first-Christmas ornaments. (The ratio of first baby ornaments to actual children in our house is extremely lopsided.) There are toddler-made craft ornaments. There are ornaments given to us in memory of our first daughter. There are, finally, ornaments related to Christ’s coming and sacrifice, from a nail hung close to the tree trunk to remind us of the cross, to embroidered hope, joy, and peace nativity ornaments from my sixth-grade Sunday school teacher.

It is a bit of a brightly colored mess, a mixture of sacred and secular, and even more topsy-turvy and branch-heavy with the on-and-off-again lower-tier ornaments accessible to our 4- and almost-2-year-old (to whom nothing is sacred!). Here hang the knitted bells and sturdy wooden reindeer, jingle bell wreaths and soft stocking socks. There is one plastic manger scene at their level, but it is a habit of mine to place the ornaments actually related to the heart of season near the top of the tree. They hang close to the star atop the tree, the one that reminds us of the star over the stable where Jesus was born long ago.

I tend to divide our ornaments into sacred and secular categories, compartmentalizing Jesus into tidy portions of the tree, but Jesus is above all and in all. He was present at creation, when our capability for laughter and music and celebrations began. The myriad of baby ornaments make me laugh, but God is the Creator of life and giver of all good and perfect gifts. He Himself came as a baby to us. Why shouldn’t there be an excess of baby ornaments? They point back to Jesus.  The jingle bells make music, and music is one of my favorite gifts from the Father. Each ornament can point to the Father and result in gratitude if I have open eyes and a grateful heart. The ceramic Mrs. Claus reminds me of my Gran’s clucking laugh and her kelly green costume jewelry. I am grateful to God for many memories with her before she graduated to Heaven, for her legacy of faith. And the ornaments with bittersweet memories, like the streetcar trolley with two wheels broken off reminding me of an old, dusty friendship and uncertainties therein. These point me to the Father in prayer. I see the name etched in silver of a daughter who never took a breath, and I look to Heaven and breathe the words, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

So with our tree, so with my life. The Christmas season, and our whole yawning lives, are full of memories and oddities, precious things of eternal significance and nonsensical things like flying reindeer. Jesus can be above all and in all of the holiday bustle if I look for Him and remember He is present.

May everything this Christmas season remind us of Jesus. May we see all the gifts He has given us, most notably Himself. May we seek Him in the inevitable busy, loud and distracted times, thanking Him and lifting up needs as we toil. May we take the time to be still and silent, to listen. May we rest in Him and know the peace He brings wherever we are and whatever we are doing in this merry hodgepodge that is the Christmas season.

 


Megan is part of Legacy’s Olathe campus, along with her husband and three young children, who both keep her from and provide excellent fodder for writing.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash