photo by Ian Schneider

photo by Ian Schneider

‘Tis the season.  ‘Tis the season for holiday greetings, Christmas trees, family gatherings, food all of the time, presents with glistening bows, and stockings hung by the fireplace.  At least, that is what I think of when I think of the perfect Christmas. Christmas has become this season of shopping, fighting through crowds, and frustration when you just can’t find the perfect gift. And personally, I need my alone time. Sure, I love having everyone together for Christmas, but it just seems to be a little much when the family is together for a whole week straight in one house.

But, why? Why do I get frustrated when the family is all together?

I get frustrated because the holidays carry an expectation of perfection. There is this expectation that everyone has to be happy, merry, and bright. There is this expectation that the tree has to be perfect, that the gifts have to be perfect, and that time spent with one another has to be perfect.

The truth is that Christmas – and the holiday season in general – is messy.

It is a messy season full of baking ingredients everywhere and mistakes in the kitchen, ornaments broken, presents that weren’t purchased until Christmas Eve, and expectations that won’t be fulfilled. And with unfulfilled expectations, we might end Christmas feeling empty, heavyhearted.

Whenever I think of a realistic Christmas, I distinctly think of being in the kitchen, looking at my family. My little nieces and nephews are coloring (getting crayon markings all over the table because it is more fun that way). I picture my dogs cleaning up food scraps from the floor. I picture my parents talking on the porch, letting the cold air in. When I think of a Pinterest-perfect Christmas, I imagine a fireplace roaring, a never-ending cup of cozy hot chocolate, and everyone sitting perfectly still as we watch a movie. The real version seems so hectic, but then I remember Jesus.

When Jesus was born, He was not born into a palace. He couldn’t even get a room at the inn. Jesus was born in a manger. He was born in the midst of a messy stable to an unmarried virgin. He was born in a barn, animals surrounding Him, and no one dubbed Him “king” with a golden crown. What a sweet way to remind us: ‘tis the season to not worry about perfection.

But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1:4

The key in all of this? Patience. Not in waiting for the perfect Christmas moment to happen, but in remembering we are not of this world. This world has so little to offer compared to the kingdom coming. Our wants here on earth are miniscule to the grand beauty that heaven will hold. That is the perfection that we can count on.

We are about a week away from Christmas and I haven’t even begun my Christmas shopping, but I’m not worried. Why? Because gifts are not the reason Christmas will be great this year.

Christmas will be great because I get to make new memories with my family. Christmas will be a beautiful mess of Christmas carols sung by loved ones and icing from cookies all over the kitchen. Christmas will be the way the season was intended, a reminder that this world is messy - but that Jesus was born to save us from it.

-JesseRuth Parrish // @parrish.jesseruth

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