I love my Advent activity calendar. It's such a big deal to me. Going into it this year, I remembered last December's chaos, and I tried to make things simpler. I tried to know that things might not happen.
We had court recently. Baby S is going back. We've been in a holding pattern, told that once Birth Parent decided they were ready, Baby S would be leaving us in two weeks. We've been two weeks away from goodbye for a few weeks. I never like waiting. I don't like it now either.
Today we were asked if we'd do Baby's return on Christmas Day. Yes, you read that right. On Christmas Day. I knew that the county planned to send him soon, despite what I think are a lot of red flags. But Christmas Day? Guys. Come on.
We're gonna try to fight that one. It's beyond crazy. It has been hard enough to guard Christmas in my heart already.
But something has happened. Something held over from last year. Last December, I felt so much sadness as I watched Christmas slipping away from me. All of the missed moments hurt. It felt like I was missing Christmas. Much like Cindy Lou Who in the live-action Grinch movie, I wondered where Christmas had gone, and if I had changed too much for it.
But this year, the more lost I feel, the more good Christmas feels. The more moments slip away, the more precious our Christmas movies and hot cocoa moments are. In a way that I didn't expect, Christmas is more for me this year than it ever has been before.
Advent isn't a season of trying to shove in all that I can. Missed traditions remind me of how broken life is, and that makes me long for Christmas more. Not because "It's the most wonderful time of the year" (I feel a little like I'm lying to my kids every time we sing that song). I need Christmas because life hurts. Joy is hard to find, some days. And Christmas is about joy coming in the midst of pain.
And finding beauty in imperfection. Christmas sugar cookies don't look like the magazines with kids, huh?
I've noticed a lot of other people are hurting this Christmas. I guess my world is getting bigger and a little more grown-up. Christmas doesn't mean a month without pain. The upside to that is that maybe hitting "real life" won't hurt so much in January, because Christmas wasn't meant to numb my reality and then leave me fighting for hope when all of the good Christmas things are put away.
Christmas was meant to give me something bigger than my reality. It's not just for the happy people. Christmas offers a solution to my sadness. And much like Mary's life was about to get a lot messier, and more complicated, and more painful, and a hundred times more amazing than ever, my life will move forward with a lot of pain and sorrow and purpose and meaning. God won't leave me, even when life is confusing and I don't see his direction. In a few months, we'll celebrate Easter, and I'll be reminded that God's plan was always clear, even when it didn't make sense to any of Jesus's friends. Even if it still doesn't make sense to me.
Christmas is still for me. Christmas is more for me than ever before. I can find a deep peace in the approaching holiday. It's a peace that hurts, but it's stronger for that.
Merry Christmas, friends. May this Advent season bring hope and peace, even if the wounds remain or the circumstances don't look new on the outside. I know we'll be okay, because Jesus came for the broken people, and all of our hurts just make us more qualified for God's amazing work in us.