Authored by Jewel Roque
Why do I always wish for a perfect Christmas?
I have an image of one in my head—one that I can’t even fully describe. It’s nostalgic, soft and cozy, magical, and memorable. But year after year, I find myself feeling disappointed when Christmas doesn’t turn out the way I had hoped for, or when circumstances aren’t exactly what I would have chosen.
There is one Christmas that stands out in my mind as my “best Christmas yet,” and that day was far from perfect.
I had been looking forward to that Christmas. My two older children had been practicing all November, and along with three other kids, comprised an adorable Christmas dance team. Even my three-year-old son, who we originally thought had two left feet, was becoming the star of the show with his unique style.
My youngest, Aiden, was nine months old. Although he wasn’t technically a member of the dance troupe, I planned to take him to the places that the kids would be performing—orphanages, hospitals, and schools—to spread love and cheer in the ways that only babies can.
The day before the kids’ first performance, Aiden woke up from his nap and I noticed a couple of spots on him. The diagnosis was soon clear: chickenpox. My hopes that he would get only a light case of it were dashed when, by the following morning, he was covered with spots from head to toe.
My mind raced through the 10 days leading up to Christmas, picturing each of the programs I had planned to attend. I would no longer be able to do so. I spent the next two days home with my poor spotted, unhappy son, as everyone else was out singing, dancing, performing, and making Christmas special for others.
The third morning, one week before Christmas, as my two older kids headed out once more, my five-year-old daughter asked, “Are you going to come watch us dance this time, Mommy?”
I tried hiding the tears as I said, “No, honey; baby isn’t feeling well and I need to stay home with him.”
I finished fixing her hair and watched them all drive off once more before finally letting the tears fall.
“It isn’t fair!” I said to no one in particular (as no one was around). “I only wanted a special Christmas with my children, to watch them dance, have fun, and give love to others. Is that too much to ask? Everyone else is having a great time. Why do things like this always happen to me?”
The baby was especially fussy that afternoon, so I put him down for a nap and booted up my laptop to check my mail. A friend had sent me a Christmas post, which ended with the words: “Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind.”
Here I was, bemoaning my fortune at Christmastime, when I realized that I am more blessed than so many others in the world. I had a loving family, friends, and a purpose-driven life to celebrate. I whispered a prayer of thanks to Jesus for Him and the love that He brought that changed the world forever.
That Christmas, even though it wasn’t perfect, became wonderful and memorable. By the time Christmas Day rolled around, my son was on the upswing, and it ended up being a wonderful day. I received beautiful gifts of love and was able to give them in return.
Come to think of it, I doubt that any Christmas throughout the ages has ever been “perfect.” Even the first Christmas, the day that is our reason to celebrate a loving Savior coming to earth as a baby, didn’t appear perfect.
If Mary was anything like a normal woman on the day of the birth of her first child, she most likely went through the difficulty of childbirth, followed by complete exhaustion.
Joseph might have been worried about his new family’s future. He was also probably a bit embarrassed; after all, he couldn’t find any better place for his young wife to have her first child than a place where animals ate and lived. Maybe he wondered what kind of provider he would be in the years to come.
A small group of shepherds were most likely completely freaked out, at least at first, when an angel appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the night. Maybe they thought it was the end of the world, which was probably why the angel had to start his message with “Fear not!”1
Wise men, hundreds of miles away, were confused and wondering, as they beheld an amazing happening in the sky, so much so that they decided to travel a long way to find out exactly what was going on. Even once they reached Judaea, their curiosity and confusion probably grew, as there was no baby king to worship in that country. Their journey extended until they finally found a young child, who had no worldly honor and praise, but they knew that He was the one who deserved their three precious gifts.
All Jews of that time had been displaced due to a new law; they were traveling, probably depressed, homesick, or physically ill, maybe even wondering why God was allowing them to go through all of that, and if He even cared. His answer had already descended to earth and was lying in the most unlikely place—a manger.
That first Christmas was not perfect, nor has any Christmas since that day been perfect.
Yet each Christmas is beautiful!—For the love that is shared on that day, for the giving and receiving of gifts from the heart, for the joy of being with family and friends, for the excitement and wonder of the season itself.
And if nothing else, if you find that during this special season you are alone, sad, or in despair, Christmas is still the most wonderful and beautiful time of year, because of the promise that was given and is renewed each Christmas. It is the promise of a love that is enduring and true, that compelled Him to leave the most wonderful place in existence to walk earth’s dusty roads. It’s what made Him willing to experience deprivation, pain, and death, so that He could fulfill the promise to walk each step of that same road with each of us.
No one is ever completely alone, and Christmas is a day to realize the beauty of such a marvelous gift—love eternal, and the promise of life forever with the Creator of that love.
He is, after all, the reason for the season.
1 Luke 2:10
Read by Amber Larriva. Music taken from the Rhythm of Christmas album. Used by permission. Copyright© 2012 by The Family International