Christmas, Young kids, magic,and baby Jesus
Christmas as an adult has such a different lustre of magic than it does as a child. Of course it does! Christmas as a parent (who can afford such things and honors this holiday in a fairly standard Americanized way-albeit with a bunch of Catholic religious elements mixed into it) requires staging, getting up early, engaging in the process and then in the midst of that doing ordinary things.
I suppose my mom did laundry on Christmas as a child. I don't remember it. But today I did 2 loads of laundry. If it doesn't get done then we will pay for in the days ahead.
2 years ago we had a full blown meltdown about a present- someone was quite hangry. Last nights planning out of the details involved figuring out what our kids would eat before we were "ready to eat..."
In the midst of opening presents the dog needs walked.
In the chaos of wrapping paper are annoying little bits of tape the stick to the carpet.
In the gift of new socks then comes pair after pair of new socks that has been tried on and then discarded.
I must sound like I am complaining. I am not. Christmas makes me feel generous to the mess. This generosity I try to embody in my everyday but I don't. At least, I don't do it well.
The kids were very very serious in their asking this year about Santa. Is Santa real? No we answered. No. But St. Nicholas was real. St. Nicholas loved children. On Christmas we give our kids presents and surprises because in seeing the joy of children we learn about God. We see some part of the face of God...
That's how I feel a bit today. My 7 year olds desperation to open every single present that has her name on it right now shares something about God's desperation to be in the know. God's curiosity. God's eagerness. My 4 year old's desire to play with every present throroughly before moving on tells me something about God's joy to really deeply know and understand us. To be in each part of creation thoroughly.... there must be other ways that these kids show us about God on Christmas. I am certian there are and certain I have not articulated them well right here.
St. Nicholas is not real- not in the sense of you and I walking around. But, St. Nicholas is real in the sense that the lessons St. Nicholas taught us are still alive.
I am very very critical of the consumerist nature of this holiday. The obsession with secrecy and Santa drives me bonker. The way that so much religious practice (pagan, made christian, made capitalist) is stripped of its meaning...anyway I am critical. But the thing that people are on to. The thing that culture is wise about is that the utter joy of watching a child receive their dreams. Watching someone open a gift from someone they love is beautiful. It is rich. It is meanigful.
So what to make of this mix of sacred and profane? What to do with this joyous gift of watching your children experience unadulterated joy and then watching them cry over selzer water within minutes of each other? What of this?
This is God. She is all wrapped up in it. Mary gazed at the face of God in a child. But her nipples hurt. She didn't know if she would ever be able to pee comfortably again. And it was tremendously meaningful.