I think we started a new tradition last night. It had nothing to do with Christmas and everything to do with blessing the littles that we love. Which I guess could tie into Christmas.
The day started as a normal ‘prepping for something’ sorta day. Read: The hubs job is to keep all the munchkins outta the house so I can clean from top to bottom.
I know what you’re thinking. That’s not fair! He gets the fun job! Shouldn’t they help with cleaning?!
So, I’ve had that thought in the past too and the answer is – he has the harder job by far! So, no, it’s not fair. For him. The one who has to take 3 boys skating for hours. Or sit in the chlorine-saturated air of the public pool. Or try and convince them that going to Starbucks is for them too!
Me? I get a quiet house, nobody messing up the spots that I’ve shined and Christmas tunes blasting above the vaccuum. I win.
At the end of the day, truly neither of us felt up for any sort of cooking so I whispered, “Let’s order Chinese food.” We left the house to pick it up with all of their tummy’s rumbling and whines of, “What are we having for dinner? When are we having for dinner?” I gave them an aloof answer about figuring it out when we got back and there was nearly a Christmas break down.
“I can’t wait 2 more days for Christmas! It has to be now! I’m going to die if we have to wait 2 more days!! This is so mean.”
And that was from me.
I kid. The little has had it with the waiting and his tired, skated out legs and hungry belly got the best of him and he went in to full on pout. So, we did what good parents do. We left with 3 words, “Be back soon!”
We were off to pick up the food and I’m thinking this might require a tangent because in our town the most popular Chinese food restaurant is literally in the ghetto. If a small suburban town can have a ghetto, that is. I’ve had friends be propositioned by street workers as they’re running in to pick up their meal. I’ve seen the poor girls pose on the corner, the short skirts and the boots and the heavily make-up’d face, as streams of full-bellied restaurant patrons walk by with nary a glance. Last night it was the dealers hangout.
There were simply 3 shadowy figures lurking on the steps of the ramshackle building across the street. Cars would stop in front of them, get out of their vehicles with hoods on and make there way over to the figures for a 3 second exchange and then they’d be off again. While at the same time 70 year old women with bright pink lipstick are leaving the restaurant in Christmas red cardigans talking of their precious grandbabies. Streams of people running in to pick up their Chow Mein while less than 6 feet away streams of other people are running in to pick up their next hit. Two very successful businesses line this little street.
I don’t know why but the collision of these two things happening literally side by side is both heartbreaking and so gut wrenchingly real at the same time. It’s such a picture of the world, isn’t it? I would love to photograph the dichotomy. Two photos hanging above our mantle. One, the gaudy castle like building with streams of happy people seen through the windows drinking tea and glutting themselves on MSG and the other the shadowy figures on the stoop of the dilapidated building.
For some reason I do better with the truth in these two pictures than the veiled picture of the world we often see where everyone is happy and life is just good. I do better with seeing the horror and the tradgedy right there in my face because we know it’s here, on this earth, but sometimes in my suzy-sunshine world I can forget that it exists.
Just because it’s Christmas doesn’t mean that sin and pain and suffering cease. It doesn’t mean that girls stop being violated or drug rings stop delivering or hurt from anything simply goes away. This picture though, it creates that longing that I’ve been praying for this advent.
The longing that Christ would come. That feeling in my heart of barely thinking we can make it another day like this. With these two strange truths colliding just a street width apart. Suddenly the words, come Lord Jesus, come, feel so much more true. Because this is it! This is our world. And it’s so desperately in need of a Saviour. We’re so desperately in need of a Saviour. All of us. The ones picking up our take out and the ones flailing their limbs in the midst of a bad trip. Come, Lord Jesus, come….
Its hard to connect that longing back to our life at times. As we headed back home and devoured a ridiculous amount of food and played a family game that the hubs even (mostly) cheerfully endured. As we snacked on baking brought by grandma which should have filled our sugar quota for the week but we all know will happen again today, and the next day, and the next day. How do we remember the hard truths of this world when we’re in our cozy happy homes? How do we hold on to that feeling of longing?
I can only remind myself day after day that we’re all the same. We’re all tragically in need of one thing whether our lives look perfect or desperate. I’m no different than the people on either side of the street. We all need grace and love and Jesus.
Late into the night we found ourselves all lounging around the living room. Some snuggled under blankets and some with heads propped up on many pillows. Some texting with friends and some laughing outrageously (you know who you are!) at the antics of Uncle Si. I looked around the room and my heart literally felt like it might overflow. There are days I miss having little munchkins. Thinking that they bring more excitement to holidays like Christmas. But at moments like this I remember that each stage is to be cherished and having a house full of teens and pre-teens is just as beautiful. A bit smellier, but beautiful nonetheless.
I fell asleep sometime around episode number 6 and I have no idea how long into the night the rest were up. I’m assuming it was late. As it should be. It’s the holidays!!
So here we are. Christmas Eve.
Let the celebrations begin! Or continue, if you’ve started the party already!
Let the twinkling lights flood your mind with memories of years passed. Let the times spent with those you love be full of grace. Let the egg nog overflow your cup and the sugar buzz be constant. Let Jesus awe you with his glory, with His blessings (no matter how hidden they may be for you just now) and may we look forward together in joy knowing that He is coming.