I caught myself today trying (very hard) to create “perfect Christmas” for those who will gather under our roof this year.

I caught myself today trying (very hard) to create “perfect Christmas” for those who will gather under our roof this year.

An endless list of details stares me in the face every morning now. The hope is that, somehow, when we gather around this table in a few weeks, all that is wrong with the world–and all that’s wrong with us–will be tied up in the stable out back.

I want a holiday dinner good enough to banish the anguish of our son and his wife, their seemingly-endless wait for a baby to adopt. How strange, really, that the laughter of my grandchildren makes me miss my mother’s presence at Christmas more? I can’t make her rolls, or fill her shoes. Her little elderly habits that could (at times) annoy Mother Teresa–even those I miss. Or better said, I’ve almost forgotten them and now, I just miss her.

Isn’t it amazing that the merry in Christmas can so trigger the sad?

What’s actually more surprising is how hard we work to have the Hallmark Christmas, when the original one was anything but.

Maybe that’s why I find the verse before the famous verse in Isaiah so compelling. So reassuring. You know the familiar words: “For unto us a Child is born.” Truly, He is a everlasting father, the Prince of Peace. But the verse we scarcely speak comes directly before:

         For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment soaked in blood and used as kindling for the fire…. 

Here’s the scene: it’s a battlefield after the battle’s done, the landscape strewn with dead bodies. It’s cold and desolate and there’s no tree standing to use for a fire. Only one option remains. Strip the garments from dead soldiers and use them as kindling for a fire. In this cameo verse, one of the worst moments of human experience is captured. And this is exactly Isaiah’s point.

Into this devastation, the Child comes. And His coming changes everything.

So, please God, let me try less hard to keep all the mess at bay. Let me give up the craziness of thinking my beautiful Christmas creation can make everything right, even for a few hours. Let me celebrate the merry in the middle of the sad.

Its there, the Savior is born.