Every year Christmas seems to be changing for me. It has been taking on a different feel – but not in a bad way. I use to stick to traditions and routine, even down to decorating the tree the same way each year. The traditional way. Our Christmas tree was always in the living room window (so passerby’s could gaze upon it’s beauty) and my mom put three balls and a bow together as her ornaments on her Christmas tree so that’s how I did it too. Sort of like the birch tree scam that says three birch trees must to be bunched together for them to be beautiful. Why, when I wanted to buck my parents authority in so many ways as a young woman did I find it so important to hold onto this piece of them? Do you suppose my fear of getting out of that Christmas comfort zone came from a subconscious feeling that if things were changed then that meant the old was lost forever?
When I dug a little deeper and peeled the cellophane off the cheese ball, I think that train of thought reflects the loss I feel now that I no longer have a parent that walks this earth with me at Christmastime. As if changing how I hang my Christmas balls has anything to do with the way I maneuver through family relationships and memories. Ohhh… now we’re getting into some deep psychotherapy. Can the old and the new co-habituate the same celebration without loss? Does the color of my Christmas wrapping paper truly mean a final goodbye to Ruth and Vic?
Well, whatever the case, in the last year or so I’m learning to lean into change. Bend a bit with the new and the possibly more fun. For pity sake – it took me 4 years to be OK with the new lime green and red Christmas colors they use for the latest wrapping papers and decorations. Ask my friend Robyn…she embraced the new look with gusto, but as we stood in front of her tree a few years back I told her I was very uncomfortable with the new unconventional colors. It seemed so un-Christmassy. So non-traditional. However, we’ve had a break though and I am proud to tell you that just today I bought new lime green and red Christmas wrapping paper and bows.
My mom, Ruth, was a Christmas bow Nazi. They had to be hand tied and “just so” (“Tina…you can’t just tie a bow and slap it on a gift! You have to fluff the bow and work with it”!). I’ve given myself some bow grace in the recent past and much to her chagrin Ruth would be disappointed to know that I now do just that – I buy the store bought bows and I DO simply slap them on each gift. I’m a big fan of bow grace!
This year I’ve bucked the system entirely and decided to move our tree to a different room completely (what a rebel I am!) and I made all new Christmas ornaments of burlap and wood. Not a Christmas ball to be found on the Glass tree this year. Give me time and I can change the world!!!
Last year was the first real stretching and pushing back of my holiday comfort zone when our Christmas morning together started later mid-day. Usually our tradition was to gather together around the tree in the morning with some of my husband’s scrumptious coffee cake, sparkling cider, with eggs and bacon. Never let it be said that we don’t eat well at the Glass house at Christmas! We would take our time and open our gifts together and it would be about a three hour extravaganza. However, newly married B&S were going to have their own Christmas morning together, stop by at her sweet grandparents for a quick appearance, and then head over to our house around noon. I was able to give everyone the impression that I was completely gracious and OK with the change, but the reality was that I found the change to be to my own benefit because I got to sleep in on Christmas morning. It’s all about me, don’t cha know.
The latest in this brutal crash course on stretching me out of my Christmas comfort zone is that I learned just the other day that Christmas day at the Glass house is going to take on an even more different look so kids and spouses could share more in festivities on both sides. That means I won’t see my kids until much later on Christmas Day. Ugh! The Department of All That’s Fair is screaming “What is this nonsense? I HATE LEARNING TO SHARE!!! It’s so…(what’s the word?)….stretching! I HATE STRETCHING!” Can you just picture me sitting in the sandbox with my poochy lip protruding?
On the UP side…as I think about it – not only do I get to sleep in on Christmas morning – I also now have time to wash my hair and do my makeup so I can look like I have it all together for the annual Glass Christmas photo. Not a trace of the early morning bags under the eyes and you’ll actually be able to see my blond eyelashes and eyebrows! Sigh…this selfish vs. grace thing can get ugly sometimes.
Are you stuck in the Christmas comfort zone of bucking any change or new direction your holiday seems to take? Are you afraid the old will be lost in the new traditions and styles of the holidays? Don’t you worry – if it’s anything like bell bottoms or tie-dye – just give those old traditions and colors a little rest and you wait and see…they’ll come back around again in your lifetime. Or are you like me – focusing your eyes on yourself so that when writing a blog about grace you run head-on into the reality that grace doesn’t come naturally to you….hmmmm….then you might have some hard work still to do. Oh wait!… Christ did that work on the cross 2015 years ago!
Yep….the good news is that although grace doesn’t come naturally to me, I still am changed…and I am already a new creation. That happened when I was 14 years old – now I just have to patiently trust Him to work that out within me. It starts with knowing that I am complete in Christ. That I am righteous right now because of who He is in me. This allows me to extend love to the wounded and the angry and unlovely (except maybe when I’m tired). Ugh. It allows me to live out WHO He made me to be. I already know He is pleased with me – no matter how I perform. It’s a messy process and my sweet family gets the privilege (NOT!) of seeing the real me as I bumble through this adventure of learning how to emulate grace more often. But I am safe here…in the Glass family…warts and all. And I’m not in a hurry to be perfect! That’s the theology of grace for me this Christmas.
I hope you find it too. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!