One of the first things I did after closing on my home last year was buy a Christmas tree. Yes, a Christmas tree. To clarify, I closed two days before the new year, and there was a 70% final clearance sale.
That 7.5-foot tree had been sitting in my garage for 11 long months. You can only imagine how excited I was to finally unbox it and put up the beauty.
And for one glorious moment, it was perfect.
But only for one moment. My eight-month old kitten Ness thought I’d just transplanted a tree in the living room for his enjoyment.
Having lived with a cat before, I knew better than to decorate the lower branches. But I had no idea my kitten would scale the branches like Tarzan. Before long, my tree looked like it belonged in a Home Alone movie.
Worse, Ness tried eating the tree. Let’s just say it didn’t digest well. And then there was the episode where he tangled himself in the lights so that the tree twisted the way someone might on a dance floor. Panic moment.
So for my kitten’s own safety and my personal sanity, the tree came down … eight days later.
I wish I could tell you I had some deeply spiritual moment through this “Ness-capade” as I’m calling it, but I didn’t. Instead, I became frustrated. After all, why couldn’t I have a normal pet that left my Christmas tree alone?
Then, as I packed up the tree, the thought hit me: The first Christmas wasn’t perfect. Why should I expect mine to be?
Think of Mary. I’m sure she would have loved to birth her baby in the comfort of her own home. Instead, she endured the discomforts of travel while approaching full term and the indecency of a public delivery.
Luke 2 records that she laid her first-born in a manger or feeding trough. Most Christmas plays depict the birth of Christ taking place in a stall, because animals were present. Other sources suggest the location was perhaps a cave or a crowded lower room where the family brought in animals for the night.
Regardless, it wasn’t a tidy place like the little figurines we display on our bookshelves. It was smelly and dirty. But God chose that unlikely location for His Son to be born.
Right. I should stop complaining about a lost-cause Christmas tree.
A Simplified Perspective
My word for 2017 was Simplify. Appropriately, I repackaged that 7.5-foot tree, returned it to the garage, and unpacked the small tree I’ve decorated since my childhood. (It’s amazing the thing is still in one piece.)
I placed it (hopefully) out of Ness’ reach and am attempting to appease him with a dollar store decoy he can destroy to his heart’s content.
In all seriousness, though, we tend to clutter Christmas with so many parties, programs, and obligations that we wear ourselves out. Author and blogger Laura Thomas wrote she’s Dreaming of a White (Space) Christmas, and I think her approach is brilliant. (Thanks, Laura, for sharing this post!)
Yes, enjoy the festivities, but make white space in your calendar to be still and give thanks for that first messy Christmas when God came in the flesh to this world with one purpose alone: to live so He could die and atone for our sins.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 NKJV)
Blessings to you this Christmas season,
This is my last blog post before Christmas. I’ll look forward to seeing you back here soon!
Merry Messy Christmas – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)
The first Christmas wasn’t perfect. Why should we expect ours to be? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)