Ecclesiastes Months and Thanking the Lord for Christmas

As far as blog posts go, I have fallen off the face of the earth for the past few months.  Some months are fairly normal months and some months are Ecclesiastes Months.  The past three months have been the latter for me and my family.

“To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

Over the course of a year, I’ve lost both of my grandmothers.  My Grandma Beth died at the beginning of October, just a few days before my mom and I traveled to Italy for the first time.  Joy juxtaposed over mourning.  The bitter and the sweet.  The trip was a true joy and the mourning was real grief.

In November, my newest and tiniest niece made her appearance a month before her due date.  She gave us a scare by coming early, but she is healthy and beautiful and eating constantly, like a little hummingbird.  During the time when baby and mom and dad were at the hospital, the rest of the family rallied around to help take care of the kids, and the things that struck me most were all the normal things – even during a crazy time, we still need to eat, we still need to find clothes to wear, we still need to sleep.  In fact, we value all those normal things even more than usual.  When the circumstances aren’t normal, the normal things become important.  If you know a friend who is going through a hard time, take them a meal.  Volunteer to help them fold laundry.  Unload and reload their dishwasher.  It’s the absolute best.  (Also, the joy on the kids’ faces when their mom and dad and baby came back home from the hospital – that joy made me cry happy tears.  Just the thought of it is making me tear up.  It was a pure gold moment.)

Between trying to catch up on life and work and laundry and making sure my family was okay, this blog was the last thing on my mind.  I would think about it every Saturday, decide that there were other more important things to get done, and shelve the whole idea of writing a blog post. And there were more important things to get done, so it truly was okay to not write a blog post on those days.  But I started to think, “What is so important about clothes anyway?  Clothes aren’t important.  Nobody needs another blog about clothes.”

And yes, in the grand scheme of things, there are so many things that are more important than clothes.  But sometimes I fall into the trap of belittling something because I don’t want to deal with that thing.  Does anybody else do this?  When I am running out of the house and don’t have time for breakfast – “what’s so important about breakfast?”  All of my past history has proven that while breakfast might not seem important in that moment, it is indeed VERY IMPORTANT. Once I realized that I was belittling this blog to make myself feel less guilty about not writing, it was obvious that needed to stop. So I started being honest about where writing a weekly blog post fell on the list of priorities and if something else was more important, I stopped feeling guilty about the blog. Because nothing ruins a good thing faster than nebulous guilt.

Then I got sick.  Real sick.  Home sick in bed for a solid week, coughing and exhausted for two more weeks (and that brings us to the present).  One day I sneeze-coughed up something that looked so much like a dragon, that in my tiredness, I checked to see if I had actually sneezed out a tiny dragon.  I still can’t sing without coughing, but I’m praying for a Christmas miracle so I can sing on Christmas Eve.  But believe me, after being home in bed for a week, I stopped belittling the importance of clothes.  Once the fever broke and I was able to go back to work, it felt so amazing to put on real clothes again.  Just because something is little and normal, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.  But the smallness and normalcy can blind us to how important that thing actually is.

And that’s why I am especially thankful for Christmas this year.  The Incarnation teaches us never to belittle the little.  A newborn in a food trough saved our world.  The birth of a baby warranted an angel choir filling the sky with light and music and a traveling star guiding wise men to His home address.  The Son of God gave up His seat at the right hand of the Father in order to have a right hand small enough to hold on to one of His mom’s fingers.  God became man in the most undignified way.  The closest equivalent I can think of is a mom having her baby in the hotel parking garage, because there weren’t any vacant rooms in the hotel and there was nowhere else to go.

When we are overwhelmed (and Christmas has an amazing way of overwhelming us), it’s easy to start belittling and doubting the importance of what we are doing.  Yes, it’s just food.  It’s just lights.  It’s just more stuff to deal with.  It’s just singing.  It’s just one more trip to the store.  It’s just so much work.  It’s just a day.  In the grand scheme of things, these things may seem small and unimportant, but we carry them out in joyful celebration of a monumental event that closed the separation between heaven and earth.  Christ’s incarnation and His holy life and holy death brought heaven down to earth and lifted us up into heaven.  But this monumental and earth-shattering event that looked very small and haphazard at the time.  So no matter how small and normal the blessing appears to be, accept it as a gift and bless the Giver, because God uses the weak and foolish things of this world to confound the wise and powerful.  In my weakness and foolishness, I say AMEN TO THAT.  Thank the Lord for Christmas and all the littles that come along with it.  Merry Christmas, everybody!

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you: you will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manager.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”  (Luke 2:9-14)

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