“T’was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring…”
Except for Jenny.
Because I spent every Christmas Eve doubled over the toilet throwing up. I chalk it up to a night of way too much excitement. Christmas Eve service and candles burning away in our hands as we sang silent night, Christmas carols around the Christmas tree, taking turns reading the story of baby Jesus out of the Bible, mom making us share our “high’s and lows” from the year, putting the cookies out for Santa (who shamefully, I legitimately believed in with my whole heart and mind until the 9th grade), eating lots of food and candy, shaking every present with my name on it, and then waiting anxiously in my bed for the reindeers to land on the roof was all a little much for me.
Like clockwork, every year by about 1:00 am I was throwing up green and red sugar cookies all over the place, saying to my dad through tears as he pulled my hair back and watched me puke, “Dad, I’m so sorry, make sure Santa isn’t in the living room, make sure he doesn’t hear us.” It was a desperate plea.
Now that I am a grown-up I realize that the fact that I threw up on every single major holiday until I was in college has more to do with the fact that I have a severe anxiety disorder, but back then, everyone just thought, “There she goes again, too much energy, too much sugar, too much excitement…our little vomit machine.”
My poor dad. Once he finally got me back to bed, he usually had less than 5 hours of sleep before we came pouncing in on their bed…Christmas morning my sisters and I were not kidding around, presents were being devoured by 6:30 am latest. The one fluke year that we all three slept until 9:30 am, my parents woke up in a panic assured that we had either died in our sleep or been kidnapped, because we had never slept that late on Christmas morning. And we never have since. But we were alive. And though they will not admit it, I am pretty sure they drugged us that year with sleeping pills.
I love the collision of the world with the Christian holiday. I like to think that maybe Jesus, had he of celebrated Christmas, which was clearly impossible, but I like to imagine that if he had, that he would appreciate the collision of both worlds too, since, in essence he was apart of both worlds. I like to imagine him having a spastic sister who was way too happy and energetic around the celebration times of the year; who perhaps threw up all night. That he had a brother with a detailed list of fishing nets and sandals and whatever else a middle eastern kid would’ve asked for a thousand years ago, ready to go in September for anyone who was interested in exchanging gift lists four months out. That he had a mom who made everyone share their favorite memories around the family circle and was as good as Oprah at making all the kids cry and become instantly grateful. And that he had a father with a twinkle in his eye as he watched his family enjoy themselves.
I like to think that if Jesus were around for holidays, he would like all that stuff. The chaos, love, and humor of all the family getting together, the quirkiness of his siblings, the joy that his father and mother were experiencing, the excitement of the day, and maybe even the food. And I like to think that at the same exact moment as he was experiencing those things, he was also experiencing what it was like to be God, to be apart of those things, but at the same moment above those things. He would see a bigger, clearer, more full, more beautiful picture of life and the world. He would see in the chaos of gift giving and entertaining, a perfect peace and stillness that they were missing. He would fully understand in the moment that the big deal was not the presents, but a God beyond our imagination that we couldn’t even take in or comprehend. He know that his sisters heart was soaring as she thought about the excitement of it all, but His heart was soaring because He knew that by his very existence all people would experience a thing to celebrate that they had never imagined, nor deserved.
I like to think Jesus would have given his mom a thoughtful gift and would have been fully there as a man, a good brother, a good son, and a good friend, and at the same moment that he watched them all scurry around and that he knew the real meaning behind it all.
We are in the second week of advent…the week where we are supposed to our hearts ready for God.
Dad got ready for Christmas Eve by keeping the toilet seat up for me and having a towel and pony band for my hair, ready and waiting by the sink! We get ready by buying presents, decorating the house, sending out the Christmas cards, bracing ourselves to be with extended family, and baking cookies and extravagant meals. I always got ready each year by going through and cleaning out my closet and making my bedroom look perfect so that I would have a good home for all my new presents…and yeah, I got ready by throwing up! We all get ready for the Holidays.
But let us be reminded that somewhere there must be a collision of the world with the spiritual; that we are to get our hearts and our souls ready to experience anew the wonder of Jesus and the Christmas story. We have to get rid of things like anger, bitterness, apathy or busyness and intentionally set time aside to be still, to be quiet, to be reflective, and to be seeking out God’s voice. We get ready for every other part of the holiday, but I wonder if we stop long enough to get our souls ready to experience a truly beautiful and simple story of salvation?
14 days until we celebrate Christmas…are you ready?