Friday, December 9, 2011

When Your Christmas Season Doesn't Quite Go as Planned...

I feel defeated, like a failure. We've all been sick--10 days of us coughing, sneezing, wheezing over mugs of hot tea and chicken broth. One day running into another, endless blur of just. getting. through. And though I've been sick along with the rest of them, my three sick kids and husband, still this mother's guilt creeps in, setting up camp in my tired and weary soul. Did I do enough? Could I have been more fun? Could I have been...more? There's been T.V. viewing. Lots of it. One hour running into the next just trying to steal a moment's rest. They've eaten horribly. Pop Tarts for breakfast, frozen food dinners, home cooked meal scattered in between whenever I could muster the strength. And I wonder, "Could I have tried harder?" Might I have soothed brows better, cuddled more? Do these three children of mine feel nurtured enough? The claws of perfection dig deep and I'm left reeling. A mother is supposed to give, be selfless, but what happens when the well of giving runs dry, too parched and weary to flow? Will these children feel less loved?

Oh the plans I had-such grand plans! Plans of baking, spying Christmas lights on winding streets, wreath-lit evening devotions, books read cuddled on couch, carol sings. 10 Days gone from this short Advent season of light, love and preparation. But reality falls short of my expectations and I am left deflated from the disappointment of it all.

I can't get this lost time back, so I try to make the most of it. The boys regain more strength and I pull out a Christmas book of activities to do. Voice still gone, I can't yet read or do much of anything, but this, this we can do. We can draw together, color, create.

Light returns to the boy's eyes as antibiotics run their course. They seem excited to be at the table again, focused on the task at hand. Markers poised they excitedly dive in, creating pictures of Christmas cookies and toy shop windows.

Adam, my four year old, runs over to me, so proud of his completed work. "Mommy, I've made mine glow! Come look in the dark with me to see my picture light up!"

We close the door, room gone all black. We look. Out of the dark appears luminous strokes of light. Beautiful simple child's strokes aglow. We stand together, admiring the light of his creation. "Isn't it beautiful Mommy? Don't you love it?" The streaks of light all run together as eyes leak water at this moment of realization, this beautiful simple lesson.

We are not the perfection, we are not the light. We grasp and flail in the dark, trying to find our way, trying so hard to get things just right. And when we feel like we've failed, He illuminates. Grace, this light that shines through the darkness, illuminating the night, renewing and giving us the strength to begin again. And I know, then and there, it is enough. I have done enough. I let this sink in, drinking up this light in the dark. This season of wonder can be enough all on its own, so long as we let Him illuminate. Cookies and carols and packages of gold are just the extras, the icing. But all that we truly need is to feel His love. To be still and wonder at this miracle birth.

We embrace together in the dark, this beautiful boy of mine and me, basking in The Light. Etching this moment in my memory, I've never felt more filled with the light of Christmas than here and now in this moment of simple joy. And in this moment I am made whole again.


  1. He does illuminate. And as Ann Voskamp recently wrote, "God appoints people who do disappoint – to point to a God who never disappoints." This whole post does just that. This was beautiful. It touched my heart!

    1. Thank you! And I love that Ann quote! So true!

  2. Oh Erin, what a beautiful post. I love how you said, " I've never felt more filled with the light of Christmas than here and now in this moment of simple joy." It really is those simple joys that we remember most. I hope your family is all feeling better really soon!

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