Monday, December 19, 2011

The Tale of a Family Christmas (from the perspective of the pragmatic, exaggerating, scroogy wife)

This story begins with two loving parents
Who by their own admission
Were unified in the meaning of Christmas
And were starting holiday traditions.

You’d think the man and wife
Could decide on a tree with no alarm
Dad said trees don’t come from stores;
This family would cut one from the farm.
“I’m allergic to real trees,” Mom cried.
“The children are much too young.
Let the ornaments stay in the box
And the lights remain unstrung.”

The wife’s watery eyes were not of sentiment
But aversion to the Evergreen
That led to steroids for her skin
And inhalers so that she could breathe. 
Husband was bewildered by his wife’s new ailments
But soon the woman realized
That to have a happy, old-fashioned Christmas
Her man would hospitalize his bride.
With love and dreams and visions,
More plans he was contemplating.
The wife found his Christmas exuberance
Quite frankly irritating.
But they pressed on with decorations
To make memories for this memoir:
Like when the toddler ate the tree light
and spent Christmas Eve in the E.R.
The tree would not stop shedding,
Needles broke the vacuum but Daddy fixed it.
The dog drank water from the tree stand
And threw up on the carpet.

The angry mom looked to the manger scene
But barked in disarray:
He was missing from the display.
Was He stolen?  Dropped?  Misplaced?
He was present earlier that week.
No, it’s just the four-year-old’s version
Of Baby-Jesus-hide-and-seek.
The mom, knowing she might lose it
circled the family ‘round in prayer
Hands held, except the youngest’s finger
was up her nose exploring something there.
Mom threw her hands up in surrender:
“This blasted Christmas Spirit!!  I’ve tried and tried.
No matter how much this family strives
We just can not get it right.”

If Jesus spoke, He’d sweetly chuckle:
“The family squabbles, broken glass, and messed-up tree
Are symbols and reminders.  They tell the story
Of WHY your family needed Me.”

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Truth About Santa

I learned one very important lesson in Kindergarten I will never forget: one sure-fire way to make little people hate you is to tell them what they should believe about Santa.  Yes, I was that kid.   I told my fellow classmates that Santa wasn’t real.  I thought I was being kind and compassionate by telling them the truth, only sparing them of future heartache, but they threw their crayons at me (the five-year-old version of “stoning”).  I learned the hard way that by smashing the dreams of others, one can not win popularity contests, gain a hearing, or earn the right to influence others—even if that person is right.

As an adult, I've watched my grown-up peers have more civilized fights about the man in the red suit vs. the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.  My big friends don’t throw crayons; they throw defenses, justifications, dirty looks, clenched jaws, and….Bible verses. 

Sing it with me:  In the air…there’s... a feeling….. of tension.

I sit back in amusement during these (fights?) (debates?) disagreements, unwilling to express my opinion because what I learned over 25 years ago applies today:  one sure-fire way to make big people hate you is to tell them how they should “do” Santa in their own household.  One can not win popularity contests, gain a hearing, or earn the right to influence others by smashing a parent’s fun—even if that person is “right”.

I am willing for people to hate me over certain issues, how a parent practices Santa in front of their children is not worth being de-friended or getting hate-mail.   I do, however, believe the “truth” about Santa must be taught:

Santa is a fun guy.  He’s jolly, kind, giving, hard-working, and a good CEO of the North Pole.  He is a diligent leader, able to create a plan in January and see it to completion in December.  Without Santa, many elves would go un-employed and red-nosed reindeers would be overlooked, unable to rise to their potential.  Mr. Claus is able to remain humble in his successes, because he hasn’t forgotten the “little people”.   Santa presses on when people don’t believe in him.  He dreams big, flies high, and accomplishes goals that seem impossible like getting his big belly down small chimneys.  He is willing to be his own person, dress like no other, be okay with himself and comfortable in his own red suit and floppy hat.  He is faithful to his wife, Mrs. Claus.  H doesn't let his age prevent him from investing in the younger generations.  Santa encourages nice behavior and gives good gifts to children who are freaked out by him.  But all children need to know that even Santa is not perfect:  1) He is a glutton.  2) He was seen kissing somebody's mommy.   3) He can’t change the hearts of naughty children.

Santa is good, but he isn’t good enough.  He can reach the heavens in his sleigh, but he will never arrive at Heaven by his impressive works.  Santa's name first appeared on the naughty list, just like all the other children in the world. He can only get off of that list and into the Lamb’s book of life if he is covered by a different shade of red—the blood of Jesus.  Even Santa can be naughty, but Jesus can change him, just like He can change you and me. The truth about Santa is that he too, needs a Savior.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Balancing Act 2: Cutting the Fat

"How do I balance everything?"

What we are really asking is, "How do I do all of this stuff, and do it well?"

Short Answer:  We can't.

We do not need more time in the day, we need more wisdom with how to manage the time we have.  We need to know what activity to cut and when to cut it.  We need to know when it's okay to focus on one responsibility over the other, or focus on one person at the expense of others.

It is possible that when we feel overwhelmed and unable to accomplish all we have been given, then we are requiring things of ourselves that God does not require.  Check the schedule: what can get cut?  Sometimes it's not that we need to quit the activity,  but the expectations associated with all the activity.  For example:

A few weeks ago, I had a chaotic week.  There was no way I could home-school, take care of the kids, the house, and feed us like I normally do because I had several "outside-of-the-house" activities that I was preparing for.  Some things had to go, so I chose to let it be the laundry and the toys.  The kids had free reign of the house for a little while and their clutter was everywhere.  I was at peace with the chaos because I knew I was doing all I could do.

That is....until someone unexpectedly showed up at my house.

The emotions in my heart were surprising to even me, who does not claim to run a tight ship: embarressment, guilt, anxiety.  I was suddenly overwhelmed and felt the need to defend myself.  I can admit that I can't do everything, but I really don't want to show everyone.

Sometimes we can't throw off the responsibilities that we have been entrusted with, but we can throw off the things in our heart that keep us from feeling incredibly "unbalanced".  If you have searched your motives/ heart and found no tangible activity to take out of the schedule, consider taking a slash at:

*other's expectations
*your own expectations
*keeping up with the Jones'
*getting worth out of your performance

Do you feel an incessant need to be more balanced?  What activity or heart-idol can you cut?