I’ve never been the kind of girl that has it all together, but I’ve always wanted to be that kind of woman. My mother was the queen of making every holiday special, ensuring that Christmas was perfect, creating traditions that mean so much to my sisters and me. I think, deep down, I’ve always wanted to be that kind of person, that kind of wife, that kind of mother.
It started when I was a little girl. From making my family watch claymation Christmas movies to baking cookies. If you ask my sisters they will tell you that you do not mess with me when it comes to frosting a Christmas cookie. My need to create holiday traditions followed me to college; making my own ornaments, forcing my roomies to go see “The Nutcracker”, planning holiday light adventures. It got worse when I met my husband. Decorating our tiny apartment was a frustrating task. We didn’t really have the space to do much, but I insisted on storing decorations all year long so that I could try to turn our tiny home into a winter wonderland for one month out of every year. I took Christmas shopping very seriously…and went to the extreme when it went to Christmas wrapping. I wanted us to start our own little family traditions as soon as possible and I took pride in being a wife he could depend on to fill our home with joy while completing all the necessary holiday arrangements.
The reality is that I’m not very good at any of those things. My present wrapping ability never matches up to what I imagine it will be in my head. I’m not a very good baker. My tree decorating skills lack much to be desired. I’m certainly no Martha Stewart. I always look pudgier than I want in my Christmas dress and my Christmas cards tend to end up smudged with ink. Try as I might, I never could be the wife I wanted to be at Christmas.
And now it’s Christmas and I’m not a wife. My first official divorced Christmas. I’m living in a cast house with three room mates. I put up a tiny tree in our common room and hung some stockings on the banister. I haven’t watched a Christmas movie since I got here. My Christmas decorations from my “married life” are all boxed up in storage. I won’t be sending out Christmas cards, because what am I supposed to say? “Happy Holidays! This year I got divorced. Wishing you a glorious New Year!” Any holiday tradition my husband and I had is pointless now. I’ve changed from the “try to be perfect girl” into the “make it work girl.”
The dream of what I had envisioned my Christmases becoming isn’t going to come true. And when the dreams you had start to die, you look around and grieve the losses. You imagine what could have been. The family Christmas photo, the child you hope to have and their face on Christmas morning, making those family memories together…for years to come. All of these things come to my mind, and so much more.
And then I am reminded of the one constant of Christmas. Married, divorced, single, childless, alone…whatever your station in life…Christ still comes. Maybe, when you are forced to strip it all away, this simple reminder is truly a gift. Not a reminder of what I lack, but a reminder of what I have. Christ. He is still the center of my life and my holiday. The promise that this tiny King gave to our world still rings true. Mary didn’t seem so concerned with baking and decorating and wrapping. She was on a mission, a warrior for God in her own way.
I have been humbled. Forced to let go of the woman I wanted to become. And now hoping, that like Mary, I can be a warrior for Christ in my own way. Because the good news is that, no matter what, Christ still comes.
Luke 2:11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”