In ‘love actually’ there’s a parody holiday song made called ‘Christmas is all around’, and actually that’s the theme song of our Decembers, isn’t it? Christmas is everywhere we turn, in grief or joy and anywhere in between, an assault of tinsel and DIY bonbon kits.
I have always filled with glee, not gloom at the first full Christmas shelves in late October, and right in the middle of the Pitt st Mall shopping fray is one of my happy places. I’m one of THOSE people who gets excited about singing carols and decorating the tree, who buys reindeer ears for the dogs and has Christmas shopping traditions and makes gingerbread houses and is, inevitably, trying to source hay on December 23 for the Christmas eve dioramas. Of late I am also a Christmas puppet and a Christmas craft camp director. And somehow, with all of this Christmas, the gloss starts to shift.
Note I said shift – for it does not disappear utterly. But in the middle of beloved Christmas movies and annual gingerbread frappacino’s and $50 hole punches to make endless strings of circle bunting, somehow all the glitter isn’t where it used to be.
Things get simple in the quiet moments. When my mind stops racing and my phone stops pinging and there is a chance to be still, for just a minute. I take stock of the bags of paper chains and the glitter that won’t come out of my hair. Of the feathers on the floor and the garbage bags full of costumes and the embossing kits and the mini trees and Taylor swift mangling Christmas carols. It all swirls in an endless flurry, around a very still centre. A tableau without glitter or cinnamon spice. A baby without a halo, carrying the hope of the nations on his tiny shoulders.
As much as I love the razzmatazz, the sheer volume of it in my life means that I see through it more than I used to. The novelty is present come November, but by mid December it is wearing thin.
Today I get to hang out with a new puppet friend and ‘assist’ with a petting zoo and drive to Galston and decorate for the imminent arrival of 49 campers, all set for 5 days of Christmas craft. And all I really pray is that people meet Jesus, in amongst all that.
In a quiet moment on maybe the busiest day of my year, I pray that Jesus might be the one who shines out brighter than any glitter encrusted decoration. The sparkle of the star was wondrous in that it pointed to the Wonderful one. And so I pray that this might point to him too – the baby who did not stay a baby but grew up to be light and life and peace, securer of freedom, giver of joy.
After months of preamble for this day and this camp, today I am very aware of how much this is God’s work. He is the director this camp really needs. For I am prone to all kinds of flights of fancy, but God is a rock and a shelter, true and sure. Would you pray with me for 16 precious leaders? For 49 precious campers? That in amongst the gingerbread houses and the baubles and the bedtime stories, they might come to know, personally, the reason for all this Christmas cheer. Jesus, friend of sinners. The source of real love, actually.