It’s three days before Christmas and I am at peace. There is no tree decorated in my living room. Gifts will be few and simple as a result of a tough financial year. There are no stockings hung by the chimney with care (an annual safety hazard I somehow justify year after year). And I haven’t even begun to think about what to fix for our Christmas dinner. I’m thinking “meat” might be one item on the menu.
But don’t misunderstand. I think traditions are lovely. And most years, the day after Thanksgiving, I am like a little kid, eager to put up our tree and deck the halls with child-glued ornaments from years gone by and quick to fill our home with scent of heaven: any calorically dangerous combination of butter, sugar and cinnamon.
But this year has been different. Maybe it was the stress of our family’s year-end struggle to hold it all together. Like trying to help our sons with ASD endure another semester of an institution’s academic round holes, so ill-suited for square pegs. Or to assure them that God really does have a plan for their lives even if they can’t see it yet (and we, their parents, wondering when that illusive “ah-ha!” moment will arrive).
Truth to tell, this year isn’t different. We are. And while tradition and schedules are often a source of comfort (especially in a family with autism), this year it seems traditional projects and activities have become a source of additional stress that for the sake of our family, I have finally made peace with by doing without. Or at least, with doing less of. (I do think stockings will make a sudden and welcome appearance on Christmas Eve.)
But this morning, during our Advent worship service, our pastor lit the Peace candle. I sat there next to my oldest son, watching the fourth flame flicker and glow, I found comfort remembering that God is no stranger to being a square peg in a world of round holes. A King of Kings, He was birthed in a stall, not a palace; He was visited by common shepherds, not respected dignitaries; and His message proclaimed by the armies of Heaven, was of Peace and reconciliation, not conquest and condemnation. “On Earth, peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
Sometimes I have found great comfort in the beauty of traditions during this time of year and sharing in them, with my family, as we celebrate Christ’s birth and all things winter wonderland. Or, sometimes it can be those very traditions (while managing all the struggles that come with parenting, mid-life’s gravitational pull, and autism) that distract me from the simple but life-changing message the Host of Heaven announced thousands of years ago to all mankind:
Peace be with you.
Question: Is anything distracting you this season from experiencing the quiet joy of God’s gift to us, His Peace (reconciliation) through Jesus? Take a moment to consider what you might set aside or add to your next few days to worship and thank God for blessing us, in Christ, with His loving favor.
–Kelli Ra Anderson
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