Merry Christmas. It's the most wonderful time of the year. It is supposed to be filled with magic and wonder. We look at our nativity scenes, with a clean put-together Mary, Joseph and Jesus with their halos in the clean stable with the animals calmly looking on. We sing "Silent night... all is calm, all is bright". It's seems like it is supposed to be clean.
But I don't think that it is. The Christmas season is the most stressful time for me. Dealing with extended family, trying to find the perfect gift for the kids, stretching our budget, rushing around to the next holiday event, trying to get everything right... where is the merry? Why do I find myself crying all the time? Isn’t it supposed to be joyful?
The Merry Christmas - the "clean" Christmas is not how Jesus arrived. I doubt it was a "silent night" or calm when Jesus was born. I mean poor Mary had just traveled across country on a donkey 9 months pregnant, to have her baby in a barn. Do you think she was calm? And Joseph, poor guy had to deliver this baby (that was not his) in a dirty place filled with animals. I doubt he was thinking "This will make a great scene someday with action figures of us". I think that they were both probably pretty stressed out!
But that is the great thing about Jesus. He didn't come into our world on a perfect, calm, silent night. He came into our world in a messy stable. With real people as his parents, with real life problems...like a king trying to kill him. It was stressful. Can you imagine being Mary, having her first baby be the Son of God?!? That is a lot of pressure for a first time mom. It's so easy to look at "nativity scene" Mary with her calm smile and think she had it all together, but I think she was real. I am sure she spent a time or two crying because she didn't know what to do.
But still we can find joy in the messy. I put so much pressure on myself to have a Merry Christmas, to make it magical, that I can miss the little things. Like my 4 year old telling the Christmas story to the 1 year old using the Fisher Price "Christmas People". Like my 6 year old learning that Christmas is about giving and not getting, and giving his sister half his cookie when she didn't get one at the party. Like the time we spend as a little family under our fort reading the Advent story. Little things like that make the season truly joyful. Mary had dirty shepherds come and visit and she treasured it in her heart. They were probably not the guests that one would expect, but she found joy in the messy...and so can we.
So it is OK that it is not a clean and Merry Christmas. It's Ok that it is messy. It was messy at the beginning.