This is the land of the Nativity Card look alike, and I am closer to the bread and olive oil world that the baby Jesus entered, than when I hang stockings by the mantle in the winter wonderland of the Rocky Mountains. But there is little evidence that the major holiday of the western world is upon us.
So why does it not feel like Christmas? And what is Christmas supposed to feel like?
Here in North Africa, near the edge of the Sahara, the mother part of me desires to recreate the atmosphere that my daughter grew up with, on the Canadian prairies, so I can give my grandkids a sense of what “Christmas is about.” So Ernest Saves Christmas-our family movie from 25 years ago and the Cabbage Patch Christmas album, even older, have journeyed with me to share in this sandy land. I have brought ornaments to glitter and glue, chocolate chips for the baking. I brought my own wrapping paper. A part of me wants to do the something old, something new, something borrowed from this culture and the something blue comes naturally post grief. Throw in my daughter hosting a community Christmas party, and the age old dilemma of Christmas Martha (Stewart) versus Christmas Mary (who ponders everything in her heart) takes shape … and I fall into the trap of performing.
And is it something I need to do in order for Christmas to happen? Ann Voskamp’s words challenge me … to become a space for God. Immanuel-God with us … in order for that to happen, I have to make room in my crowded life for that filling, that presence.
It is only three days till Christmas, and my 5 year old grandson asks if we could please, please open one of those presents that magically appeared under the tree last night. I have forgotten how hard it is for children to wait for the day to open gifts. I feel my own impatience with waiting for the gift of fulfillment. And I ponder again the concept of becoming a place for God. Making a space for beauty, life, and joy to enter. May it be so.
Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas. – Peg Bracken
Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts. – Janice Maeditere