There’s even a phrase for it: “Christmas preparations”. You don’t hear about “Pentecost preparations” or “Easter preparations”. Everyone is busy at this time preparing for Christmas. Whether it’s decorating the house or apartment, buying gifts, baking cookies, cleaning, buying groceries, looking at the calendar and scheduling, Christmas preparations are in full swing around about now.
And, as per usual, things will go wonky. The toddler will pull the carefully decorated gingerbread house off the table. The teenagers will not show up at the family gathering. Someone will be unpleasant and cranky just when everyone is supposed to be happy. And when everyone is sitting at the table, you will pull the turkey out of the oven and it will be cold in the middle. Despite our best preparations, real life happens. There are no picture perfect Christmas moments except in fond memories and Christmas movies.
That’s the way it was that first Christmas too. Instead of having her baby at home, helped by her mother, there is Mary giving birth far from family and resources. They had planned to return to Nazareth with the new baby, but ended up in Egypt. And the world had not finished its Christmas preparations when Jesus was born, you can see from what happened that we weren’t ready to receive a person like Jesus.
Maybe when things go wrong this year, we can look at each other and say, “Just like the first Christmas!” God showing up in real life, when things are going wonky, as they almost always do.
Peace to you at Christmas, in real life!