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At the closing of Christmas

Ah, Christmas. The day of gifting and giving and focusing on others. At least, that’s where it all began when those wise men set their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh on the dusty earth near the newborn baby.

 I am sure we’ve all had good intentions as years past. We meant it to be a season to celebrate the birth of a Savior by showering each other with love. Instead, it turns into striving for the perfect season of endless shopping, traditions and picture perfect Instagram memories. Can you blame us? It is a sacred season. It’s the one season of the year, a few short weeks, where we get to decorate our homes in the romantic glow of Christmas lights…we focus on spending more time with our families…we indulge a bit more in baked treats and fancy dinners and game nights and candles lit long into the night and sending each other snail mail, for heavens’ sake.

 It’s not all wrong, as some people like to say. It’s not all bad, and I really don’t think it’s incredibly disappointing to Jesus. God Himself Imagegives us good gifts every day…an overabundance of gifts…saving the best one for Christmas. So the concept of giving and celebrating is straight from His heart. But the real sin is to lose sight of the real gift, which my daughter just happened to unwrap for me one morning this week, unbeknownst to her.

It was one of those mornings. The coffee dripped dry a bit earlier than normal, and our words and anger cut each other before the 7am hour. Cody and I were livid over a pre-dawn temper tantrum from Heidi, who woke up on the wrong (and early) side of the bed. The sun rose slowly, but we didn’t notice because we were too busy yelling at each other before we even brushed our teeth. I am sure (I hope?) you can relate.

As we stomped around, slinging dirty looks and boasting ugly hearts, we let sin reign in our home. Our anger at each other ruled the day, and we didn’t even know where it came from. We grumpily piled into the car for a family trip to the grocery store. Tears lined my eyes, and I said something to Cody about being sorry and made up some excuse about how I am simply tired of being pregnant. Cody nodded, telling me it was ok and we were just having one of those days.

 A minute later, we heard Heidi’s little voice from the back seat: “Even if we are mad at each other, I still love you, Mom and Dad.”

Cody and I smiled at each other, the tension lifting a bit. This. This is what Christmas is. Hallelujah. He saved us from ourselves. Jesus showed us how to live. He gave us a literal example of how we should walk through life…loving others, putting them above ourselves, noticing and loving the marginalized, tearing down boundaries, and welcoming all into God’s kingdom. We are to live humbly, gracefully and lovingly. And we are to do it even when we don’t feel like it. He also showed us the fruit of this love…peace and joy and hope.

I’m so glad the Savior came that night, and I’m so glad we wait in hope for Him to come again and make everything right. I’m so glad Heidi realized we can still choose love, even on the rough days. And I’m so glad she expressed it in her own innocent way. She reminded me He walks with us always, not just during Christmas. And at the close of this joyous season, that’s a comforting thought.

 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~Matthew 1

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