Monday, December 16, 2013

Inviting the Birthday Boy

Dear Girls,

Katelynn, you were born on a cold afternoon in November five years ago. That year I found myself full to bursting in anticipation of the holiday season.

I busied myself with plans and preparations. A huge tree was placed in a corner of our tiny apartment and set ablaze with twinkling lights and just the right amount of balls and ornaments. Presents were wrapped, cookies were baked, and the sound of Christmas music could be heard from morning to night. (Much to Dad's dismay!) Decorations debuted early that year and even you, little ladies, were adorned from head to toe with ribbons and red velvet. Stockings were hung on the wall with such care that anyone could see the holiday spirit was there!  That holiday celebration lasted from Thanksgiving to New Year's and was one for the books, for sure.

Now before you go thinking that I missed the mark on the true meaning of Christmas, allow me to proudly inform you that we did, in fact, have a beautiful ceramic nativity scene that we dutifully placed on top of our television set. We even took time out of our festivities to explain to you, Jyllian, that Christmas was when Jesus was born!

But that was it.

We then quickly returned our attention back to the electric glow of our tv, nervous that you would ask questions. Because back then we just didn't know the answers.  

And anyway, what's Christmas without watching The Grinch?!

As the holiday approaches this year, I remember that Christmas fondly. After all, it was our first holiday season as the family we are today. It could have been the hormones still running rampid through my body from recent childbirth, but still...somehow they translated into warm, fuzzy, holly-jolly feelings, and the thought that maybe Christmas could still be magical.  All we needed was to turn up the music a little.  Or eat a few more cookies.  A glass of wine?  Maybe a little more tinsel?  Or...what?  

You see, along with the memories floods a heavy case of the shoulda-coulda-wouldas.  I shoulda learned more about what happened in the stable that night so long ago so I coulda taught it to you girls sooner and the gift and wonder of seeing our Messiah lying in a manger woulda been yours to behold earlier in your lives.

But that point in my life that nativity scene meant no more to me than did the icicle lights hanging from our roof. It was just a symbol. A novelty, even.

I wasn't following Christ then. I knew little about His life, His death, and even His birth, though ironically I knew it was important enough to to throw a huge celebration every year. In fact, I celebrated with such gusto that I even forgot to invite the birthday boy himself! While part of me knew He was the reason for the season I guess I, like many people, failed to understand just how relevant His miraculous birth was to me and my life.

I've since given my heart to Him.  With that came the insatiable curiosity about His life, His death, and--you guessed it--His birth.  And what I've learned, I've then turned around and tried to teach to you girls.  Like how it's okay to give and receive gifts at Christmastime as long as we remember that we have already received the greatest gift of all.

How it's okay to celebrate as long as you know what you're celebrating. 

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  John 3:16

This verse--which happens to be a favorite for both of you--came to fruition that night so long ago.   Do you understand the weight of that?

No one's ever given me a gift quite like that one.  Complete, unconditional, love and redemption.  God cheerfully gave it, and it is ours for the taking.

And that, my sweethearts, is something to celebrate. 

So, we decorated the tree this weekend.  It snowed.  The view from our kitchen window would've made a beautiful Christmas card while you and Dad made an awesome snowman in the back yard before falling in the door, wet and cold, asking for hot cocoa.  Christmas tunes have been blaring in our house for weeks now, and we'll be hanging some lights outside tonight.  Our celebration has begun!

And that's okay.  And perhaps forgiveness is in order.  Forgiveness for myself for not giving my children this gift sooner.  I pray you're still young enough that you don't even remember that there was once a time where Jesus wasn't the center of our celebration.  That we often forgot to invite the birthday boy.

Truth is, you probably don't remember because one day a few years ago the birthday boy actually moved in.  Yep.  He came to visit one day and never left.  He's a big part of our family now, and we give His birthday more attention than all of ours throughout the year combined!  We don't mind, do we?  He's truly something worth celebrating.



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