Sunday, December 20, 2015

I'm gettin' trouble for Christmas.


Hit the wall yesterday.

Found myself in a room full of wrapping paper and boxes and packing materials and crap, Christmas music on the iPhone, and just thought:

I'm so done.

Just hang me.
That's the way it goes, when you go holiday happy. No matter how carefully you plan, things wind up taking longer than you expect, or other people cause delays, or something totally unexpected pops up, and your carefully constructed list of Ho-Ho-Holiday Things to Do winds up bursting at the seams, leaking all over the place. Next thing you know, you're in a room full of unwrapped gifts, feeling like you've been run over by Santa's snowplow.

It's all too much, people say. All this running around and doing and spending and making ourselves crazy. Some who have celebrated in the past openly revolt now. "I'm not doing it this year! NO WAY!"

And that's just fine. Believe me, I sympathize.

What gave me my second wind? It occurred to me that there was no reason why Christmas shouldn't be trouble. Really, why ought it be effortless? Is anything worthwhile effortless? Don't we pour huge amounts of effort into Mardi Gras and Carnivale, two feasts whose basic premise is "We have to eat everything before the fast begins"? Why shouldn't I be put to trouble for the real feast itself?

Of course, the danger, as will be rightly pointed out, is that Christmas can overwhelm Christ, and that we will forget, in that hackneyed phrase, "The Reason for the Season." The Puritans certainly thought that was a problem, and basically wrecked everything fun about Christmas for a hundred years. We are always in peril of letting the things we dedicate to God get in the way of our love of God.

And yet these good gifts are also from God. In Charles Williams's novel War in Heaven, an archdeacon, overwhelmed to find himself holding the actual Holy Grail, says to it,

"Neither is this Thou," he breathed; and answered, "Yet this also is Thou."

So I accept all the trouble I go to for Christmas, although I wish I were better at estimating its extent and my capacity before I launch myself on the journey of Advent. My reach exceeds my grasp. I bite off more fruitcake than I can chew.

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