Sunday, November 8, 2009

'Tis the Season

I have this itch to start playing Christmas music. I know it's early (unless you're a retailer), and out of principle, I just think all things "merry and bright" ought to wait until after Thanksgiving. But now that I get to share it with the kids, I can't wait to break out the Christmas books, sing the carols, and deck the halls. Especially because Ben really gets it.

Tonight, he colored a little wooden ornament he received as a gift and decided he wanted to leave it as a present for Santa with the cookies we will make him on Christmas Eve. He desires to give Santa a gift since Santa brings him gifts. We've already started in on the barrage of questions: How does he know when we're sleeping? Why does he come to the Lake House (where the fire department hosts its annual Christmas party for the volunteers complete with the most authentic Santa & Mrs. Claus I've seen)? How does he get in our house when we don't have a chimney? Does Santa share his cookies with his reindeer? (Okay, that was my question, but he sure chuckled as he thought about it).

I do love this time of year--the festivities make the shorter days more bearable. And I'm a sucker for anticipation, not to mention the sheer beauty of a warmly-lit tree, the comfort of a warm cup of spiced cider, and the joy of little ones in candy-cane striped pajamas. I can live with parking lot madness and party-overload and the stress of the quest for the perfect gift when, at the end of the day, I get to retire to Ben and Abby staring at the tree and the stockings--wide-eyed with wonder and bursting with their own excitement.

And I'm not concerned in the least that Ben may be forgetting the annoyingly-coined "reason for the season." Last night as we drove home from delivering a meal to a couple who is in the throws of newborn life, Ben engaged me in the most beautiful conversation about Jesus, asking me how He can move the mountains, how He can "get out of us" to do things like lift heavy rocks, how He's so strong, and why He would move mountains anyway.

I don't have the answers to these questions, and I told him so, but I did my best to answer as honestly as I could as he asked: "Because He is God, and God can do things that are impossible for us...He may not need to move mountains, but if He did, He could...And while He can do things 'out of us' if He wanted, what's more miraculous is that He generally wants to do things through us to show people He loves them, like He did when we brought food to this new family."

"So they can just take care of the baby and not have to cook," he chimed in.

"Exactly. We may not understand everything about Him, but we can trust Him, because God is Love and that makes Him Good. All the time."

As we talked, Abby kept asking, "Whah ahr you guys tah-ing abouht?" So I'd reframe these theological concepts once more at a two-year old level and say, "We're talking about how much Jesus loves us." And she'd say, "Oh," and occasionally start singing "Jesus Loves Me."

Toward the end of our conversation, Ben said, "Mommy, this morning when the clock still said 6, I looked out my window, and the sky had all these gorgeous clouds [yes, he actually used the word "gorgeous."]. They were bright orange. When I layed down in my bed, I thanked Jesus for the orange clouds." It was so very sincere, so precious. And I imagine his gratitude was received as a gift as beautiful as the ornament Ben made for Santa.

This is why I'm not concerned about the Christmas story getting lost in the commercialism or the Santa hype or the trimmings--we'll revel in it all over the next several weeks.

Ben knows who paints the sunrise.

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