As we light the Advent candles, I struggle to remember the order…is the correct pattern: love, joy, peace, hope…or was it love, peace, joy, hope?
No matter what the order, the discussion of them each Sunday and finally, Christmas morning, is part of our family tradition. The kids know there will be Christmas gift opening after Christmas advent. Both aspects of Christmas giving is ours: the packages under the tree and honouring the package that is ours as a birthright — the gifts of love, peace, joy and hope.
These last weeks, our son has been repeatedly listening to a prerecorded Christmas book that his Grandpa gave him a few years ago. We have many Christmas books, from Curious George to Eloise at the Plaza, but this particular book is actually about the Christmas story. When I tell him to put his books away at bedtime, it’s time for lights out, he asks me…
“But hey, mom, can I ask you a question?”
“You already did. (hee hee) Yes, go ahead,” I respond.
He ignores me. “Is Christmas really all about Jesus as a baby?”
This is a sincere question. Still,”Whhaaa?” Indeed, it is. So many fun themes to enjoy during the Christmas season, but this is the reason for the season, celebrating God’s introduction of grace through love, joy, peace and hope into the human realm. Year in and year out, with so much repetition in our household, I marvel that this tidbit has not been absorbed.
Is the real Gift of Christmas Santa’s delivery and mom’s efforts at neatly placing pretty packages under the tree? It wouldn’t be surprising that he might think so, as he is also encouraged to save his money for gifts for his sisters. Attempting a mad dash around the shopping mall in December is a recipe for frustration…so not a lot of mad dashing in mall crowds for me. I attempt to order on-line, despite the shipping charges. He sees when I hide my screen and suggests he needs to let mom shop.
The packaged gifts are ours to enjoy for a few weeks post-Christmas. But we have an opportunity to receive the ongoing gifts from above and incarnate them as part of our daily lives.
Love and joy and peace and hope can be ours all year through. Daily life doesn’t necessarily affirm that truth though. Many challenges. It’s no different Christmas week as I attempt to manifest that love and peace and hope and joy I’ve been given.
So I’ll set my heart again to daily listening and daily receiving the enduring gifts of this season, as I focus again on love and joy and hope and peace…
…a daily practice of loving when it doesn’t feel instinctive or comfortable and sometimes not even deserved
…choosing joy when circumstances aren’t seamless and smooth
…hopeful despite mistakes of others around me and hopeful despite my own
…and always choosing peace anyway…