I was at the end of my rope.
I finally had all of the Christmas decorations ready to be set out, the festive music of the season playing and the tree purchased and waiting to be wrapped with strings of colorful lights. I plugged in the lights for their annual test-run and sighed. Only one strand was working.
Two of my youngest kids were rummaging through the box full of ornaments which sat beside me on the floor. "Careful, guys!" I warned. "Lots of those can break." They moved to the piano to admire the nativity.
I sat, cross-legged on the floor next to the tree for nearly 2 hours, painstakingly removing and replacing each light in an attempt to find and repair the one bulb which was preventing the others from glowing. As I did so I reflected on the lack of Christmas spirit I was experiencing this year. Where are you, Christmas? I wondered. The beginning verses to this song seemed to play over and over in my head and I found myself growing more melancholy as I worked. I had 3 colors working on one strand and 4 on the other but the dead bulbs detracted from what I wanted to accomplish. Again, a sigh. After 17 years it was time to purchase new lights for the tree.
I stood to stretch my cramped legs and noticed that the nativity scene had been rearranged into a small cluster on the piano. I placed each piece back into its proper position and went to the kitchen to set up Santa's Village. When I was finished I collected the now useless lights in a grocery sack and placed them near the door. I went to grab my purse and noticed the nativity, once again, all pushed into a corner. I knew this was the doing of my 5-year-old boy, Hubba, as I had seen him push the nativity together numerous times already. As I rearranged the pieces I wondered if this was all worth it; setting everything up only to have it moved around so that I would need to organize it all over again and again and again. "Hey, everyone!" I announced as I left to purchase new lights. "I'm leaving! Keep the little kids away from the piano, please!"
I ventured out onto the snowy roads, found the lights as well as a few Christmas gifts I needed, waited in a long line to make my purchase and then headed back home. As soon as I walked through the front door I noticed the nativity again, all crowded together. Again I moved each piece where I wanted them to be. I noticed Hubba peeking at me from around the corner.
"Hubba!" I scolded, exasperated. "I asked you to leave these alone. Why do you keep messing them up?"
"They're not messy, mom. They like being in a circle."
Frustrated, I turned to look him in the eye. "They do NOT like being in a circle. The wise men want to stand over here, the shepherd and his sheep want to be over there, and the angel wants to stay right here," I told him.
"But I thought they all camed to see Jesus," he said to me. "It's Jesus' birfday, and they want to see him. I was just helping them see him more better. 'Cause that's Chris-mis, right mom?"
And that's where I found Christmas. Right there on my piano, in the middle of a cluster of nativity figures. The reason we celebrate and decorate and give gifts and sing carols and promote peace on earth, good will to men all December long. I just needed Hubba to rearrange the nativity - and my way of thinking - so I could see things more clearly.
Yes, Hubba, that is Christmas. Thanks for helping me remember.