O Lord, don’t You think going directly from Christmas decorations to Valentine’s Day hearts makes sense? After all, both holidays are rooted in Your love. (And, OMG, maybe You could help Hubby take the hint about chocolates?)
When Christmas, 2021, ended the year with this much fun, OMG, bright moments just have to happen in 2022!
O Lord, thank You that after a wild, wonderful Christmas celebration, Hubby and I could sleep in. Two thousand years ago, Mary and Joseph probably wanted to sleep in, too, after all the brouhaha. But OMG, since You were a Baby, You probably had other plans for the day.
Unlike Mary, Jesus’s mother, and Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, my husband and I didn’t see angels when we learned we would be parents. Medical tests one December confirmed our first child was under construction. Our Christmas miracle.
Other confirmations seemed less wonderful. Entering Grandma’s kitchen Christmas morning, I nearly fainted. The fragrance of spareribs, usually mouth-watering, spun my stomach onto a Tilt-A-Whirl™ ride. Our teeny-tiny daughter, who later adored Christmas cookies, ate zero that day.
Soon my waistline and feet vanished. One guy, playing a game at my couples’ shower, guessed my belly diameter measured seven feet. He shouldn’t have lived to procreate. Because his wife was my friend, I allowed it.
Given pregnancy and delivery, how does the human race continue?
Yet, according to Dr. Luke’s biblical account, devout, elderly Zechariah and Elizabeth longed for that miracle. Marginalized because of infertility, they had lost hope.
Then Gabriel, an angel, appeared to the freaked-out priest, proclaiming they’d have a son.
Even an angel couldn’t convince Zechariah. Still, as Elizabeth’s baby bump swelled under old-lady dresses, his faith grew.
Meanwhile, Gabriel visited teenaged Mary in Nazareth and greeted her as the soon-to-be mother of the Messiah.
Mary was engaged, not married. She hadn’t been with Joseph or anyone else. This intruder was delusional, maybe dangerous. If I’d been Mary, I would’ve called 911.
Instead, she listened — and believed he came from God. Mary offered herself to whatever He had in store.
Gabriel also said Elizabeth was pregnant, too.
This, Mary had to see. Had Gabriel shared God’s truth? Or was that stranger crazier than she?
When big-bellied Elizabeth greeted Mary as the mother of her Lord, Mary’s festering doubts disappeared.
Elizabeth knew. Mary didn’t have to explain. Or hide.
The pregos could tell their stories without boring each other. They could gripe about swelling feet. They agreed that neither could stand spareribs.
Both, however, had developed cravings for pickled goat. If Zechariah balked at buying it, Mary would.
With her young body, she accomplished tasks creaky Elizabeth couldn’t. But the older woman’s lifelong faith, despite hardship, strengthened the teenager’s. God, who already had done miracles, wasn’t finished yet.
Because He gave those women each other, Elizabeth could face people asking if John was her grandson. Mary could go home to her parents. Face Joseph. Face rabbis who might throw rocks.
Mary would need more miracles. Still, God wasn’t finished yet.
Because Mary accepted stressing along with blessing, Jesus came and redeemed humankind.
Today, His miracles may also include not-so-spiritual complications, some nastier than morning sickness. Some, perhaps dreams come true.
He’s not finished yet.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you think He will work in 2022?
O Lord, my Indiana farmer friend decorates his machinery for Christmas. Others trim cacti or palm trees. But, OMG, wherever You are celebrated, You are the Light!
Have you spent endless hours seeking Christmas gifts for your Numero Uno?
We search stores. Dig through photos, files, and websites for unique gifts that say, “I love you.” Right, guys?
We’re all inspired by “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Mr. True Love went all out to find his sweetheart’s presents. Five gold rings notwithstanding, though, romantic zeal doesn’t always translate to gift-giving know-how.
Our first Christmas together, my true love gave me gloves. Hairy-looking, mottled red and gray gloves, the like of which I had not seen before, nor have since. Later, I learned his mother, terrified her 17-year-old was hurrying into something serious, had suggested a pair.
He should have asked her help.
My future husband’s gift-giving impairment didn’t surprise me, though, because my father was the world’s worst. The oh-is-something-happening-tomorrow? thought never occurred to him before Christmas Eve. Second, penny-pinching Dad comprehended zero about Mom’s preferences.
Around age 10, I noticed their annual conflict.
Dad bought Mom a blue eyelet dress, perfect for running through daisies.
“Pretty!” I cheered. “Like the ones the eighth graders wear!”
Mom grated, “I’m not in eighth grade.”
True. Most eighth graders didn’t have five children. And even I saw the dress was four sizes too small.
The following year, Dad bought her a practical gift. A slip the size of your average city bus.
After 25 years of bombing, he finally welcomed his daughters’ help in choosing Mom’s Christmas gift.
My husband learned much faster. Now he’s so good, he should teach gift-giving lessons. Hubby could have helped the guy who teased his girlfriend one holiday season, insisting he’d give her an iron.
She responded with cute giggles.
He purchased a super-cheap iron, gave it away, and packaged a romantic gift in the box.
She unwrapped it. No cute giggles.
He spent the rest of Christmas trying to persuade her to: Open. The. Box.
If it’s the thought that counts, a traveling salesman’s wife blew that aspect. She gave him a week’s supply of socks, all dotted with her portrait.
Having dissed all these givers, I tried to be fair, asking Hubby, “What Christmas gift for you did I blow?”
He shrugged. “None I remember.”
None? Our relationship has spanned almost five decades.
I threw my arms around him. “You’re so forgiving!”
“Forgetful’s probably the word.”
“At our age, same difference.” I hugged him again.
During the holidays, I often lie awake. Did I buy the teens’ gift cards from stores that will ruin their reputations for life? Are the in-laws allergic to blue? Do little ones’ toys contain kryptonite?
Hubby’s forgiving/forgetting my Christmas miscues is the best present he could give me.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s the best/worst gift your spouse has given you?
This post first appeared on December 9, 2015.
Ask a thousand people to describe what makes a perfect Christmas tree.
You’ll receive 966 rapturous — and opinionated — answers.
What about the other four? A few Christmas-tree-impaired people don’t get it. My father, who loved trees, saw no sense in chopping down an evergreen, hauling it inside, and decorating it with expensive baubles.
Fortunately, Mom overruled him. Because of Dad’s reluctance to contribute, though, we celebrated with a tree that looked as if it had been mugged by a Grinchy Weed eater. But Mom filled our tree’s gaps with strategic placement of greeting cards. We decorated with our scanty string of big-bulb lights, the ornaments we and our pets hadn’t yet broken, plus glittery Sunday school paper bells and stars. We draped random garlands of popcorn and, as a finishing touch, tossed on wads of shiny icicles. Finally, we gathered outside the picture window, shivering and marveling at the most perfect tree in the world.
With my background, I am not choosy. I always allowed Hubby and the children to select our tree. If it appeared undernourished, we dangled extra ornaments and strategically placed large greeting cards á la Grandma. If its lower layers stuck out too much, I sympathized, as mine tend to do that around Christmas, too.
On the other hand, my husband makes great tree choices. While flexible, he insists upon one stipulation: the tree’s trunk must be straight, as in a perfect ninety-degree angle to the ground. No leaning, even if it’s a little tired of the holidays.
I only ask that the tree look fresh and green. No yellow needles. And they must cling to the branches like a scared-of-Santa toddler to his mommy. Please, no needles scattered abroad, their prickly presence lodged forever in my socks, sweaters and undies.
Although we miss the kids, our empty nest simplifies the selection process. Hubby, measuring trunk angles with a protractor, will get his Christmas tree wish. I, giving each one the super-shake test, will too. We’ll haul home a fresh, green tree with a straight trunk.
So far, we’ve never found a flawless one. But that makes sense. Advent is all about God’s coming because we — and our world — are flawed. A Christmas tree reminds us what He can do with imperfection.
After we’ve decorated our tree, I will drag Hubby outdoors by the picture window and force him to enjoy the view.
“It’s straight,” he’ll say proudly.
“Yes, isn’t it?” I’ll answer as we hold each other close in the darkness, shivering with delight.
No, our tree is not perfect. But it’s the most beautiful tree in the world.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What makes your tree the most beautiful in the world?
O Lord, You know that like Zechariah in the Christmas story (Luke 1), I can’t speak or sing right now. Unlike Z, I haven’t seen angels, nor is my spouse experiencing a geriatric pregnancy! Thank You that my silence stems only from a non-COVID bug. But, OMG, this Christmas, maybe I need to pause, as Zechariah did — shut up, listen, and learn?
O Lord, why a fussy, tropical plant named after a politician should figure prominently in commemorating Your Advent seems a mystery. But You designed lovely, gaudy poinsettias. You also loved a party … and disliked nitpickers. So, OMG, I will celebrate You any and every way I can!
The calendar gap spanning Halloween and Thanksgiving gives me that between-holidays feeling.
Many, craving Christmas, skip it.
Me? I want to slow down. With no more scary skulls, spider webs and zombies, why not continue the fun of pumpkins, cute scarecrows and gorgeous leaves?
Another cause for celebration: colder weather brings comfort food — though the official Comfort Food Day is December 5. Do holiday authorities really think I’ll wait that long for chicken and noodles?
Fortunately, this influx of calorie-rich food is accompanied by baggy sweaters, lifesavers until New Year’s resolutions ruin everything.
Not all between-holiday positives are unhealthy. Though the growing season is finished, carrots, still residing in our garden, will bless our table. Tomatoes and peppers rescued from frost glow in golden and red splendor before patio doors. Why my parents ripened garden produce on paper grocery sacks, I don’t know. But following suit recalls their love of autumn and determination not to let food go to waste.
Rescue efforts during this between season include the migration of shivering, potted plants from porches to places inside. For plant lovers like me — and my longsuffering husband — this can prove challenging:
Me: I can’t let this begonia freeze. It started blooming again. My zinnias. My herbs —
Husband: How many pots have you brought in?
Me: So far, only 37.
Hubby: Where will you put them? What will we do with them at Thanksgiving? You know Tate [our toddler grandson] loves plants.
Me: Let’s hide them in our room.
Hubby: (resignedly) Gives a whole new meaning to “flower bed,” right?
Sadly, this between season doesn’t preclude yardwork. Not only should I trim perennials and compost withered annuals, but thousands of leaves wait to pounce on us. No raking deadlines are etched in stone, but this must be accomplished by Thanksgiving, right?
As should major indoor cleaning. My chaotic office — drafted as a “spare bedroom” during the holidays — couldn’t provide overnight accommodations for a visiting chihuahua. Our neglected home dictates a major cleanup. However, we have six grandsons, ages 3 to 15. Given Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings, why would anyone possessing a brain cell perform such an exercise in futility?
I, too, have shifted to pondering the holiday season. Thoughts of cooking, shopping and wrapping cram my mind like too many ornaments on a gaudy Christmas tree.
Friends who are aliens already have completed shopping and wrapping. They’ve designed and frozen perfect cookies for Santa — plus enough for the entire state of Indiana.
But I still sip pumpkin spice lattes when I can find them. Savor that rare, soon-to-vanish feeling of having some money.
Let’s enjoy between-holidays feelings while we can.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you in a hurry for Christmas?