The Perfectly Imperfect Christmas | Marvelous Mundane

What are your hopes for a perfect Christmas? Pictures of your kids cuddled together by the Christmas tree, or sitting (screaming!) with Santa? A quiet night with your family watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate? Or taking an evening to drive around, discovering the magic of houses covered in Christmas lights? Maybe your perfect Christmas is simply peace between your family members, or a holiday party without raised voices and hurt feelings.

I have a specific expectation this Christmas: pictures of my sweet toddlers at every moment possible! I love pictures and could easily be called the “picture queen” (check out my Facebook and you’ll see I document every moment). My perfect Christmas is my one and two year old sitting still, looking at me, and smiling while I capture the magic of this season through their eyes. Photographing this Christmas, the good and the bad, the tears and the smiles, is a MUST. Another Christmas essential is adding new traditions my husband and children will love for years to come. Growing up with five brothers and sisters, one of our favorite traditions was opening one present on Christmas Eve. This is a tradition I cannot wait to pass on to my two little ones.

Expectations and hopes are not wrong. They give me the drive to work hard, to do my best to make dreams come true. They only become wrong when I choose to sin when they don’t go according to my plans. My response to the perfect or imperfect Christmas reveals my heart’s attitude of worship: either worshipping my ideals, or worshipping my Savior. It is Jesus who we are celebrating, His birth that we call “the first Christmas”. And that first Christmas was a season where every plan and expectation was thwarted. The first Christmas was a Christmas of Unmet Expectations.

A virgin conceived. She was engaged and pregnant, but not with her fiancé’s child.

A divorce considered. Joseph didn’t understand, and talked of divorce. (Talk about an imperfect Christmas: calling off a wedding!)

A shotgun wedding. Due to her pregnancy, Mary could have been stoned. Joseph most likely married her quickly and quietly to keep her safe, and away from public shame (although people probably shamed them anyways).

An uncomfortable trip. They were required to travel to Bethlehem around Mary’s due date. We know what it’s like to be nine months pregnant. Sitting in a car for longer than thirty minutes can be uncomfortable, let alone riding  a donkey for hours on end over unpaved roads.

A stable instead of a hospital. Now, I know there weren’t hospitals in those days, but there were sanitary places (at least more sanitary than a stable!) and comfortable homes that babies were born into. No such comforts were available for Mary at her time of delivery.

An unassisted birth. In those days a midwife or mother would help deliver a baby, but they were miles  away from friends and relatives. Mary had to rely on her own understanding of birth, and ask her new husband for help during the birthing process. If Joseph is anything like my husband that would have been highly stressful!

A lonely birth celebration. We spend Christmas with family or close friends. Dirty shepherds (who carried who knows what kind of germs! And no vaccines in those days!) were the visitors on that first Christmas.

The first Christmas was full of unmet expectations, yet it was the perfect Christmas; it was the exact way God planned. And Mary wasn’t frustrated by the unexpected circumstances. She “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 ESV).

This Christmas I can choose to treasure each moment, perfect and imperfect. I can choose to ponder them in my heart by coming to God, praying through my disappointments and struggles with the imperfections. I can choose to see the first Christmas, and Mary’s response, as an example of how to respond to my own imperfect Christmas. We will all make a choice when things don’t go according to our plans this Christmas. We may have no control over what goes wrong, or who gets upset with whom, but we can control how we respond. Let us respond as Mary did, and treasure the memories of this Christmas, pondering how God might be revealing Himself in the midst of the imperfections.