I’m so thankful it happened … and so thankful it’s finished.
That probably sums up how many of us feel about the long and complicated season we’ve let Christmas become.
I’m thankful for the many blessings of the season — time with family and friends, the reprieve from routine, laughter, wonder and excitement experienced vicariously through the children who grace my life, the sharing of our blessings.
But I’m also thankful when it’s finished. I’m not sure I could survive 52 weeks like the two weeks surrounding Christmas. Planning, decorating, cooking, hosting, cleaning, conversing, cleaning again, buying, wrapping and romping with six adorable grandkids under the age of 8 wore me slap out.
I prayed for supernatural strength and like the multiplying of the fishes and loaves in the Bible, God took my limited natural capacity and s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d it to meet the needs of each moment.
Now that it’s finished, I find myself feeling grateful for the blessing of routine and other calls on my life. After all, none of us are called to fill just one or two roles, even if one or two roles require most of our time and energy for certain seasons.
I’m ready to go in another direction again now. Having had precious little time these past couple of weeks to read or study God’s Word or to ground myself in peaceful moments with Him in prayer, it’s good to dive below the surface again now that the holiday hoopla is over.
I wouldn’t trade anything for the busy, noisy time I had with my family. It was a precious gift indeed, and I milked every moment. But I also wouldn’t trade anything for quiet time now to spend with the God in whom we were created to “live and move and have our being” (see Acts 17:28).
I am so grateful for the people in my life, but Jesus IS life to me. Loved ones make the air I breathe so much more refreshing, but Jesus IS my very breath.
I was gently reminded throughout the Christmas season that no matter how hard we try, we just can’t make anything perfect on this side of heaven. We’re always going to experience some degree of stress, disappointment and frustration in this life, and the holidays seem to highlight that reality.
I thought I had bought some amazing gifts, but it killed me to look at the disappointed face of my grandson when the very cool remote-controlled dinosaur we gave him wouldn’t move its stupid legs and we had to pack the thing up to ship back for a refund.
I thought I’d planned the perfect Christmas dinner. I bought a standing rib roast the size of Montana and hovered over that cooking hunk of beef like a midwife delivering a baby, but I still managed to overcook it.
We loved having our kids and grandkids with us, but our time together also included toddler tantrums, teething babies, sugar-induced kid craziness, all kinds of sticky messes, and way more manual labor than this spoiled empty-nester is used to.
But it was all OK because I’ve finally come to accept that’s just the way life is … for now.
Nothing in this life will be or go just the way I want it to be or go, but thankfully, this life isn’t all there is. Someday I will experience perfect joy, peace and fulfillment all the time. In heaven every expectation will be met, so you know what? It’s okay if that doesn’t happen here or now.
Being thankful for the good; accepting the difficulties; and constantly remembering the sure hope of heaven — that’s a formula for freedom from the cruel, embittering tyranny of our expectations.
And that’s a freedom Jesus came to give all who would believe in Him.
Mary Ann Crum (maryanncrum.com) lives in Abbeville and is the author of two books, “A Giggle Goes a Long Way” and “Live.Learn.Laugh!” She can be reached at email@example.com.