we are deep in it now. deep in the throes of the magic of Christmas.
but here on this tiny island, it feels a lot different than i expected, or maybe just different than i wanted.
the *icy* 58 degree air in the morning is just enough to warrant sweatpants and a hoodie for school drop off, but by 1pm everyone is back in their tank tops and shorts. the palm trees are swaying and the landscape looks the same, tropical and green and like it is summer. still, it feels like Christmas.
a quick trip to the mall has me feeling like i could use a year long nap away from blinky lights and beeping registers and sale posters telling me what i MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW. i went to claire’s to get a pair of earrings and walked out with 6 items because it was buy 3, get 3 free. i got a good deal, right? i didn’t waste my money, right? amidst the insane amount of Christmas decor that Walmart managed to stuff in their store, and as I maneuver past tourists decked out in $30 Red Dirt tshirts trying to decide if they’re being ripped off with our $8 loaves of bread and $10 gallon milk jugs, the thought occurs to me that no one really needs any of this stuff, but then i see a sweet old lady ever so carefully choosing a hello kitty toothbrush for her granddaughter and smiling to herself as she places it in her cart. it feels like Christmas.
instead of huge light displays all over town, we drive to the few houses that we know of that “go all out”, meaning they love Christmas enough to pay a small fortune in electric bills to light up their community every year. we get excited about hot cocoa and cappuccinos in our jammies as we drive but it’s still warm enough for one of us to get an iced coffee instead. still, it feels like Christmas.
the presents are wrapped under the tree, and as our own family tradition stands, we open one a day until Christmas, when all of our gifts have been opened and the day is free to celebrate Jesus. tonight, the kids are overtired and grumpy and selfish, and they bicker and tattle on each other incessantly. each one gets sent to their room multiple times. ryan’s in the other room trying to soothe a teething, fussy baby, and in my frustration i yell at everyone to “stop yelling!” as i attempt to lecture them on their attitudes. i am a hypocrite, and my children should have gone to bed hours ago.
still, it feels like Christmas.
in between Christmas party invitations and end of the year family updates, someone sends me a video about Aleppo and i cry, not just for these cold, weary, traumatized casualties of war, but for the hatred and the fighting that our whole EARTH has done for years. honestly sometimes there are only two choices- bury your head in the sand and pretend the world is as perfect as you can make it on Instagram, or to fully let the weight of the horrors of the daily news sit heavy on your shoulders. today i chose to let it sink in, and i was ashamed of myself and our world that has let it come to this. i filed that info in my heart right next to the picture perfect glossy Christmas cards that came in my mailbox.
still…it feels like Christmas.
because Jesus came for the refugee, for the selfish brother who teases his sister without mercy, for the racist and the victim of his racism. he came for our inability to solve problems without violence and our indifference when we turn our heads and hearts away from global catastrophes. he came because we are addicted to money and addicted to THINGS. he came for the hypocrite, i.e. the people that yell at their kids to stop yelling. he came for our brokenness and our pain because THIS is the way of the world.
but then…a tiny baby came that changed everything.
it feels like Christmastime because without our need, He would never have had to come. in every moment of brokenness we are reminded of the miracle of Christmas. for us, this was not an easy year, and most days, a hope that things will not always be like this is all i have to go on. that hope is enough for not only me, but for you, as well as the people of Syria, and every single human being in between.
o holy night, the stars are brightly shining
it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
long lay the world in sin and error pining
til He appeared and the soul felt its worth
a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
fall on your knees, o hear the angel voices
o night, divine, o night when Christ was born
merry christmas 2016
Here is one way you can help the people of Aleppo with transformative aid.