First Published at 1 Corinthians 13

Oh the stress of trying to be perfect! We all know there is no such thing, right?! But why do we try so hard to make our lives seem perfect when they aren’t even close. Christmas time just magnifies this ten fold, doesn’t it?

Standing in line at the post office yesterday was eye opening.

I’m not sure it is a good idea to put a lot of people in a tight space with heavy boxes and ask them to stand in line with strangers and be cordial for over an hour, someone is going to get cranky. In front of me was the sweet mom with two adorable little kids in matching snowflake sweaters. Her boxes were organized and she had all the tags matching and color coordinated, her forms were filled out, and she appeared to be on her A game. The guy in front of her, not so much. He juggled boxes and made numerous phone calls to try and get a correct address for his sister, much to the annoyance of the crowd as he began to use not so nice language and stormed out of line bumping into others as he left the building in a rage. The older gentleman behind me appeared to be immune to it all as he read his book and smiled politely at me.

For those of you who know me, you know it is impossible for me to stand in a line and not try and talk to somebody! So I made small talk with the toddlers and shared high altitude baking tips with the organized mom. I didn’t want to disturb the gentleman reader so I once again politely smiled and then he said, “You know what everyone’s problem is? They want Christmas to be perfect and it was never meant to be that.” He put his nose in his book and looked very serious.
A few moments passed in silence and then he said, “Baby Jesus is why we celebrate Christmas and yes he was perfect.”

I bravely said, “I agree,” which began a few stares and some uncomfortable shifting of boxes.

A meaningful and at times spirited conversation ensued amongst my new postal acquaintances.

Some of us believed in Jesus and others said they didn’t. They all agreed they liked to hear “Merry Christmas” and they all agreed the true spirit of Christmas has been lost in the consumerism and quest for perfection. Strangers started sharing traditions and we all agreed how annoying it could be when half the strand of lights goes out. We shared a few good laughs at stories of what goes wrong during the holidays and how the imperfect really is better.

A lady who had remained silent for most of our chat time piped up and said, “I think it’s good for things to be off a little then we don’t get too big for our britches.” How true.

A special hour for sure shared among strangers who all really just wanted someone else to affirm them and remind them it is OK that we are not perfect. Our gentleman reader turned to leave and said, “I wish you all a not so perfect Christmas. Enjoy life!”
I came home and plugged in the Christmas tree and yes, a strand of lights was not working. I laughed out loud and decided to keep them that way.

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

How can you embrace the imperfect this Christmas?


Reflections on a Cold Winters Day

As I sit at my desk on this snowy December morning, the snow continues to lightly fall outside my window and the evergreen branches look like they have been dusted with powdered sugar.  I am baking Stritzel bread today, a recipe that has been a family tradition for us for over 100 years.  When my grandma died at the age of 94, she had never had a Christmas without Stritzel.  She told me once that her mom and her grandma also had never had a Christmas without Stritzel.   I love that she taught me how to make this yummy treat and I am passing the recipe  and tradition down to my daughter.  My daughter  is only ten but I hope one day she will make it with her children.  How fun and unique that is to our family.  I love Christmas traditions and I enjoy talking to other friends about what is important to them during this time of year.

I was having a chat with some friends this past week and we were all  sharing our family traditions.  What I loved most about this was the fact that  it is not only the tradition itself that we love but those family members that came before us and either started or continued the tradition.  As I mentioned earlier, for me the tradition of baking Stritzel bread makes me think of all the fun times I did this with my grandma.  I called her Momo and I loved her dearly, and still miss her terribly; especially this time of year.  One friend shared how they cut down their Christmas tree from their property up in the mountains and then drink hot coco out of their special Christmas mugs.  Another lady shared how they sit around the tree on Christmas Eve and read from the BiBle in the book of Luke where the birth of Christ is retold.  Many had baking memories and sledding stories.  One family buys matching hats and carols around their neighborhood.  Each tradition shared brought a smile to the face of the person sharing, sometimes giggles, and sometimes tears.  Christmas traditions are priceless.

Each person and their family story is unique, just like the snowflakes falling outside.  I believe snowflakes reveal both God’s creative genius and his concern for the smallest details on earth. Snowflakes form in a variety of shapes and sizes, each a unique creation from heaven, just like you and I and just like our family traditions.  A snowflakes journey begins high up in the clouds and continues as it slowly falls to earth where it makes a brief and sparkling appearance on a child’s mitten. In the big scheme of things, our lives are similar, we are only here for a brief moment in time.  I encourage you today to embrace your unique self and all that makes up your family traditions. Hoping one day someone I will never get the chance to meet this side of heaven will be baking Stritzel bread.

Enjoy this wonderful holiday season as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Merry Christmas and God Bless –