Saturday, December 17

The Only Thing Perfect About Christmas

um...yeah...not our cookies...pretty though!

     What would the month of December be without making and eating cookies? We had a major cookie bake-off here over the weekend that culminated by frosting and sprinkling cutouts at the counter at 9 a.m. this morning before we left for church. It is now 4 p.m. and I just tackled the majority of the dirty dishes that began on Friday night. Whew.

     The girls had a ton of fun making cookies, Daddy had a ton of fun eating cookies (he is our version of the cookie monster for sure!), and we wound up with some great tins and boxes of homemade treats to deliver to a couple of the neighbors later today.

     Scott and I did learn, or should I say, some truths about us were reinforced, through the entire experience...First and foremost, that he is by FAR a better baker than I...Everything he makes magically bakes to perfection, like something out of the Betty Crocker cookbook.

     Everything I make...we'll just say there is usually an issue or two along the way. Like our first batch of cut outs...

   Let me start by telling you our kitchen was TRASHED! It was Scott and I and three little girls (our next door neighbor's daughter joined us) and there was flour, and dough scraps flying around the kitchen with tornado force momentum.

     It was quite a mess.

     A fantastic mess, in my opinion, given the amount of laughter and the smiles that emerged, but a mess nonetheless.

     Scott was not so excited about the mess at first...he, like many dads I not used to how much of a mess kids make when they do things like bake, or make crafts, but he slowly warmed up to it when I told him to "think like an artist" (My code word for let's create and be happy and deal with the mess's all part of the process!).

     That said, in between the clouds of flour and shards of falling cookie dough we managed to burn an entire tray of cookies beyond edibility...because, well, I was supposed to be monitoring them in the oven and I was a bit...well...distracted by the goings on around me.

    Grrrr. That's when I get crabby. Guess why?


     Those darned little things.

     Ironically, I'm o.k. with a completely trashed kitchen, but when my cookies burn, watch out!

    At which point Scott prompted me with, "Lisa, we've done as well as we could given the situation.  It's o.k."

    You can see why we need each other.

    The thing is, I had visions of sugar plums and beautifully decorated cookies, dancing in my head. Beautifully decorated cookies that I was going to arrange just so on plates to give to my neighbors to say Merry Christmas.

     (The next night, to top it off, I botched the peppermint bark too (Two years in a row I might add!!! White chocolate does not melt the way the online recipes claim it does...either that or I'm doing something wrong!)).

     I was tempted to say it was all not good...skip the neighborly cookie plates...bah humbug to burnt Christmas cookies and unsightly peppermint bark.

     And then I remembered that I tend to do this. That if things don't turn out just so,  that I can tend to discard the entire experience as no good, instead of finding value in the situation. If you saw my house on any given day you would not guess that I have perfectionist tendencies, but they do sneak up every now and then in my day to day tasks. When things don't go as planned I can tend to get discouraged instead of pressing on and making the most of things as they are.

     I have small kids. Things do not go as planned all that often. You'd think I'd have figured this out by now.

     We have plenty of good cookies. I'll use the peppermint bark that did turn out. The neighbors aren't going to care anyways. Heck, they may end up throwing half the plate of cookies away because they have too many around the house! It will have been the thought that counted. It will have been that we stopped by their house, remembered them, said Merry Christmas and connected, if ever so briefly with them during a very busy time of year.

     I think I sometimes treat the Christmas season, the entire month of December actually,  like I treated my cookie making escapades...a few bad moments and I'm ready to chalk the whole Christmas experience up to "not the way I would have liked it to be" and in the process I forgo some of the joy I could be experiencing.

     Life is not perfect. Every moment during the month of December is not going to be perfect. Chances are that every moment of Christmas day will not even be perfect...I'm sure there will be some moments (there always are at big family gatherings!) of short fuses, or whining children or food and drink spilling on a carpet.

     I was at a Christmas concert last weekend in which one of the performers talked about the gift of Jesus at Christmas time. He did not come to the world to save our perfect selves. He came to the world because we are imperfect and need some major help because, left to our own devices, well we'd pretty much be a lost cause.

    Jesus loves my cookie burning, bad housekeeping, disorganized and overwhelmed self.

     He loves me just as I am. He loves you just as you are.

     THAT is the TRUE beauty, meaning and spirit of Christmas. It's the ONLY thing you need to understand to experience Christmas in all of its glory. It's the only gift we really need.

     No matter how crazy the month gets, how awful (or good!) your cookies taste, what gifts you end up offering to friends and family...none of that changes what Christmas is actually about, and therefore, if you really think about it, the only thing that can "ruin" Christmas is your reaction to it. Because happy or crabby Jesus still came to this world because we needed a savior and I'd say that is something to rejoice about!

    So let me just implore you to remember that it doesn't matter if you check everything off of your to-do list this month, it doesn't matter if you've been less peaceful and joyful than you've hoped, it doesn't matter if you aren't "feeling" the Christmas spirit as you had anticipated you would or should after tree lightings and parties and concerts and cookies.

    None of it really matters.

    Just as in the classic song "Joy to the World"...Our Lord has come...Let earth RECEIVE her King.

    Hold out your hands...RECEIVE the gift  that is being offered...grace, love, joy, peace...a SAVIOR to meet you in all of your imperfections.

     Because he is the perfect gift.

     Merry Christmas!!!

    I look forward to connecting with again afterwards!

our not so bad (actually pretty cute!) neighborly goodie boxes!

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