I’m ready. The tree is decorated, the dining room table is covered in linen poinsettias, the stockings hang at the ready, and the manger awaits in its usual perch on the mantle to receive the Christ child. The gifts are in hiding, the packaging prepared for a long afternoon of wrapping with a cup of hot cider. And the Christmas CDs? Well, in a moment of weakness, I broke them out in September. And I’m confident the other usual traditions will fall right into place:
Gingerbread cookie baking,
Christmas Eve caroling,
the reading of the Grinch and Luke chapter 2.
Is it possible to be too prepared? Does Christmas morning really live up to the hype?
The element of surprise only works once. After a thing is known it’s known. What else can be done now except anticipate it, build it up, make it big and extravagant.
And I love the extravagance. What, other than a lush celebration, is due the arrival of royalty? Divinity wrapped in humanity? It's exquisite, right to prepare lavishly.
But I’ve been the wise men before. I’ve mapped out this path to the birth of Christ with gifts in tow so many times that even the ornaments with my precious babies’ faces feel tired and predictable.
I want to be Mary this time. I’d like to be busy going about my daily life,
I want to be there when God breaks a four hundred year silent streak. That’s a long time. Four hundred years ago Galileo was unveiling his latest invention he called the telescope, and James the First was about to become a New York bestseller for a certain bible translation he commissioned. That is, if there was a New York. Those quiet four hundred years were a mere momentary hush before the God of the universe made the announcement of all announcements. He chose to tell Mary, and I want, like her, not to know what to do with all this miracle that I can only ponder the wonder of it in my heart.
And what of the shepherds? Only one night in all of time would it have been great to be a shepherd. Every other night they were marginalized, disdained, unengaged, forgotten. But, oh, for that one night turned day, they were the ones astonished by an army of angels, entitled to heavenly secret. I want to be there, be them, to hear the peculiar sound of heavenly voices, to see worship from those who had already seen His face, while common shepherds expected an ordinary night.
I want to be sore afraid. I want to never be the same again, nor celebrate by rote because December deems it time. I want to have to grope in darkness until I’m brave enough to follow a Light above and before me to where He is. I don’t want to know the way.
I want to be undone, caught unawares. I want the thrill of surprise. I need it to be a miracle. I want to be unprepared, so the coming of Christ can again be gift's seeming-spontaneous arrival after long-expected age.
Most Wednesdays I chronicle my walk with Him. This week we ponder the practice of Christmas.