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BrokenGifts

My Plan B evaporated into a puff of stomping and cursing last night.

I lost another post written in my bed, after the one I thought I’d be sharing with you today didn’t materialize.

For two days this past week, I held back the hair of my daughters as they threw up, over and over.

Saturday, I dropped and shattered my mother-in-law’s ornament — one from a box marked “Tom.”

Tuesday and Wednesday, I watched a precious, newly made in preschool ornament and a treasured childhood Christmas decoration crash to hard wood and into a bazillion little pieces.

We wrapped gifts, and I wondered how on earth such a seemingly small task can turn a house into a storm of paper scraps and ribbon ends and crumpled tape, and I felt the tiny pieces of clutter might overtake me.

I struggled to emerge from gray sorrow for the hurting and wondered how they are placing one foot in front of the other. I wanted to pull the covers over my head and stay there.

At times this week, everywhere I looked things felt broken.

The veneer of perfection stripped clean off Christmas.

But, this week, I’ve been stunned to see, though by now I’m surprised I’m still surprised, that removing the veneer doesn’t make Christmas any less beautiful.

Instead, it casts as new these handmade cookies and cup of tea with a friend and prayer around the living room and reenacted Christmas stories.

It takes the small moments of everyday tenderness between sisters and the running to deliver treats to neighbors and the celebration of a precious four-year-old’s birthday, and it makes them treasures.

The dome that covered a favorite Christmas scene shattered, but now we see inside to what’s really there, the details of a sweet little life slowed, and once we remove the jagged glass, we’ll be able to touch the train, the packages, the little guy with the balloons, the spiky tree.

This week, when Sici told the story of Mary and Joseph and their journey to Bethlehem and the stable that would be the first earthly home of the newborn king, she deemed it of utmost importance to add some brown paper details.

Cut by cut she placed not only the brown hills that surrounded the family of three, but piles of animal poop between Jesus’ parents, the shepherds and the wise men.

“They were in a barn, ya know.”

How fitting to remember this story without the gauze of heavenly lighting, but as the story of one who entered right into our imperfect everyday experiences, the literal muck of this world.

And when J, our little animal lover, dressed in angelic robes to proclaim the good news, she announced, “Then the little lamb came to the manger and licked the newborn king as much as possible.”

I never considered this part of the scene before, but this week it is feeling entirely possible and comforting somehow.

These next days, friends, may you delight in the imperfect beauty that is right where you are — the life that is in your hands. These dear people, this earth, this cold air, the food at your table. May you treasure the moments that catch you by surprise like shiny ornaments catching light. May you receive the gift of pure love and grace beyond your creating and freely give it away. May you know Christmas.

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