The daughter has a job 194.3 miles away in a different time zone and I will be going to meet her there for an 11 pm Christmas Eve service. We’ll drive back afterwards and I’ll drop her off at her mom’s house before I return home after 1 am Christmas Day.
I’ll wake up at 6 am and drive to my son’s house in time for presents with the granddaughter. The husband will be at his ex-wife’s house with my stepdaughter and grandson.
We’d postponed our Christmas lunch with my sister, mother, brother-in-law, the husband’s stepfather, and the kids and grandkids until the 26th, but one of my sons has to work from 9 am to 9 pm that day, so we’ve moved it yet again to the 27th.
I’ve worked hard to build traditions for our family through the years, probably out of guilt at having been married to their mother and divorcing her. There’s no way to pull off those traditions this year. What had become rote is now scattered on a calendar, spread out and diluted in an effort to accommodate everyone involved.
The perfect Christmas has become an impossibility.
And that’s just fine.
When Jesus was born, circumstances were far from perfect. Strip away the sentimentality and look at the story realistically: an unwed mother; a sceptical fiancé; an ill-conceived, government enforced journey; labor and birth in a barn; complete strangers showing up, some of them bringing useless gift for a newborn.
It’s as if God was trying to tell us something. In the midst of all that first Christmas mess, incarnation happened. The word was made flesh to live among us. God set the bar low on purpose to show us that God loves us just as we are.
The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people. Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord. This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors” (Luke 2:10-14, CEB).