Thursday, December 25, 2008

Even Though Things Don't Look or Feel Just Right

"Somehow I realized that songs, music, good feelings, beautiful liturgies, nice presents, big dinners, and many sweet words do not make Christmas.

Christmas is saying 'yes' to something beyond all emotions and feelings. Christmas is saying 'yes' to a hope based on God's initiative, which has nothing to do with what I think or fee. Christmas is believing that the salvation of the world is God's work and not mine.

Things will never look just right or feel just right. If they did, someone would be lying . . . .

But it is into this broken world that a child is born who is called Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, Savior."

-Henri Nouwen

Yes, I'm there. We've had all the things listed already this year (songs, good feelings, Christmas Eve Services, nice presents, big dinners, etc.). Yet Tori said to me last night, "It still doesn't feel like Christmas yet." I think that is because she has seen us radically change our Christmas traditions in recent years (two years ago we lived in Vegas and had Christmas traditions with our "family" there, last year we changed it all to our new Indiana traditions with our extended families here, and this year those new traditions were already altered as we have focused on Niles and his needs this month). That takes away some of the sentimentality of the season, which is a strange feeling. Yet that is good. Our family has had the blessing of learning that Christmas isn't just a sentimental feeling that comes from the routine of traditions (though those are not all bad).

We are learning that Christmas means a little more. And out of this experience, I am sure, we will settle into new traditions soon enough, and the sentimental feelings will return. I hope we never forget what we've learned these past few years, though.