Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What Christmas Truly Is

This morning, after spending a little extra time in bed with my two favorite family members, Ben and I hit the ground running. I started working on the dessert portion of the several Polish dishes I'm preparing today for our family's Wigilia celebration this evening. And, in the process, I've learned that apparently Polish recipes a. do not use measurements that are recognizable (what is a dag??) b. often do not use measurements at all (as in: "add raisins", as if I'm supposed to know how many) and c. Are just plain erroneous: the recipe for dough that I just made clearly instructs you to add "the sugar" in two separate points of the recipe. So, amid my frustration at decoding a cryptic recipe (I am convinced that the difficult instructions are the author's attempt at guarding his recipe), I recieved a call from a family member pertaining to today's festivities that left me stressed, to say the least. Ben, on the other hand, is out at Target with the baby buying the last few things that we need for today (I asked him to buy me some panty hose, and he just called to inform me that there are hundreds of varieties of panty hose, and wanted to know whether I wanted custom fit brief panty hose, silky sheer, control top, ultimate control top, cellulite control, or mega ultimate control top). So it's been one of those mornings.

As I felt the stress and negativity well up within me, I paused for half a second to realize that this is not an environment suibtable for welcoming a new baby, let alone the Christ child in our midst. I realized that I needed a second to put everything in perspective, so turned to the Henri Nouwen readings that have been keeping us focused this Advent. Today's reading hit me like a ton of bricks, so I thought I'd share it here:
Somehow I realize that songs, music, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas. Christmas is saying "yes" to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying "yes" to a hope based on God's initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or feel. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God's work and not mine. Things will never look just right or feel just right. If they did, someone would be lying.... But it is into this broken world that a child is born who is called Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, Savior.
Amen to that!

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