This is my nativity:
As you’ve probably noticed, something important is missing. This is not an oversight, or blasphemy, or a statement about my spiritual life.
This is tradition.
You see, Baby Jesus is not in the manger because, well, it’s not Christmas yet. And if it’s not his birthday yet, how could he be in the manger? It was a tradition in my home to set up the Jesus-less nativity and then, on Christmas, Mom and Dad would bring Jesus out of hiding and my brother and I would sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and place Him in the manger.
Then it was time for gift-opening and then aebleskiver.
What Christmas traditions did you have and still cherish?
I’m a college graduate. I had my lovely little 8-5 office job (no, really, it was lovely—I actually enjoyed it immensely). I got married, got pregnant, had a kid. Worked from home, worked outside of home. And throughout all this, I’ve still mostly managed to feel like a perpetual teenager. Well, maybe more a perpetual college kid. Most of the time, even now, I still don’t feel “grown up.” But sometimes I have those moments that make me realize, Hey, I’m actually an adult. When did that happen?
You might think that moment first came when I asked for kitchen gadgets. For gifts. Like, birthday and Christmas presents. That’s right, I do that. Hey, a stereotypical “man” gift is tools for the garage; why can’t a girl gift be tools for the kitchen? But no. Cooking is still a new adventurous undertaking, so asking for presents in that area doesn’t make me feel old.
You might think that moment came when I got pregnant or, if not then, when I had the baby. Wrong again! Maybe it’s just the subconscious realization that young un-grown-up girls do the same thing depressingly often, but I don’t think making a baby makes you a grown up. Taking good care of it, maybe, but not just having one.
That moment of finally realizing I’m a bona fide adult came when Steve took Kara out of the house and my first thought was, Yipee! I have the house to myself! I can do laundry and sweep and mop and do dishes and vacuum and …
Well, you get the idea. And now Steve is gone with Kara once more. The dishwasher is running, as is the washing machine. Time to go wipe off counters and sweep floors and fold laundry and…
I freely recognize that it’s been forever since I’ve made a post. Pretty much everything exciting in my life involves Kara’s new accomplishments: eating cereal, trying to walk, sleeping through the night. And it’s all wonderfully exciting to experience for a parent, but probably not so much as a blog reader.
But now, the holidays are here!
Everybody loves the holidays. We had as much vacation as we could stand this Thanksgiving, and yet it was wonderful to be in a house filled to the seams with family (and, of course, food). My house is decorated. Granted, it’s decorated with a two-foot tabletop tree, which is on top of the entertainment center. But still, it looks like Christmas. And smells like it when I burn the evergreen candle my Grandma got me. The holidays have always been unequivocally happy, even with the terrible long drive to see my Ohio family. I never could understand what could possibly make the holidays so bittersweet for so many people.
But now, enter 2011:
- my first Christmas without Dad (aka Santa Claus)
- my first Christmas with my baby girl
- my first Christmas with close family drama of the sort that shouldn’t exist outside of soap operas
- my first Christmas with a new niece and a new brother
Now, it’s a terribly conflicted time of year. But it’s still a time of looking back to celebrate my Savior’s birth and a joyous time of anticipating His return. It’s still a time of vacation, free time, family, and family games like Yahtzee, Dominoes, and Scrabble. It’s a time when people wish each other happiness, peace, and joy—and mean it. It’s remembering that heaven opened up and gave us its best so that we could have those things.
So it’s a conflicted Christmas, but I’ll embrace the good, acknowledge the bad, and pray for the grace to accept both in a manner that honors my dad and educates Kara. And I wish you all, well and truly, a merry Christmas.