nativity setDec. 8, 2013

Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

It is December 8th – the second Sunday of Advent. How are your Christmas preparations progressing?

Mine are very slow. Last week, I shopped for our grandchildren’s presents. One night, I even wrapped them. I’m not sure when we will celebrate Christmas with them, but the presents are ready.

This is the extent of what I have done for Christmas. I’m not sure when and where we are celebrating. Haven’t decided if I am sending Christmas cards. I’m thinking of making rosettes, one of my Dad’s favorite Christmas cookies but haven’t dug out the special iron yet. We have no outside decorations up, the tree hasn’t been bought. My traditions of lighting a family Advent Wreath and putting out the nativity set have not been done.

These are things I enjoy. We did them last year, even though December was filled with hospital visits, nursing home visits, decisions about our parent’s health. We plunged on. I wanted the make Christmas as “normal” as possible, even though my Dad was dying. Last Christmas Day morning, our joyous thoughts came to a screeching halt. The nursing home called and said Rick’s Mom was bleeding. She was being taken to the hospital and we needed to get there as quickly as possible. She pulled through and we had another 11 months with her, for which we feel very blessed.

I do not have the same drive this Advent and Christmas season. Sometimes, this is OK. Several years ago, Rick’s oldest son was killed. He wanted to go directly from the day before Thanksgiving to after New Year’s and skip the day’s in-between. Since it was our first Christmas as a married couple, I wanted to create traditions for us. I suggested we not do every tradition he was used to. But as a pastor, it’s nearly impossible to skip Christmas all together.

Saturday night, several of our Vielhuber family decorated my in-laws house for Christmas. The tree (which never got out of the box last year) glows in the front room tonight. The gold garland is strung along the open staircase banister. I’m not sure the house is decorated just as Rick’s Mom did. And this is OK.

Most people love traditions. They are important. Often, these traditions have developed over generations. Sometimes, traditions can also be difficult. Let us give ourselves grace when this happens. For in the end, Christmas is not about perfectly matched Christmas dishes and linens. It’s not about gorgeous plaid bows and twinkling lights. It’s about the birth of God’s son. This is the tradition that is most important.

In our scurry to create the “perfect” holiday, Lord God, let us not forget whose birthday we celebrate. May the traditions we continue draw us back to that first Christmas, which was anything but perfect.  Amen.

Blessings –


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