Blog By Polly Boyette
Ah, Christmas memories. I have many great Christmas memories, but they’re not all memories of a perfect Christmas. Sometimes, even after all our preparations and planning, things just don’t turn out quite like we expect.
I remember one Christmas that was definitely not perfect. The problem began when my sister, Robbie and I went out to pick out our family Christmas tree. We saw a sign that said they were selling Christmas trees for only twelve dollars each. It sounded too good to be true, but we stopped in to have a look around anyway. I was surprised to find a tree I liked and the price was actually just as they advertised, only twelve dollars.
We took our inexpensive tree home and decorated it with bulbs and lights, sharing memories with each ornament we hung on the tree. Our Christmas seemed to be off to a great start. We had the perfect tree at a perfect price and it was going to be a perfect Christmas.
Later on, however, I soon found out why the tree only cost us twelve dollars. Every time we walked across the floor we could hear the needles falling on the floor. I’m not talking about a few needles here and there. Needles were dropping at an alarming rate. It was so bad we were afraid to walk past the tree. We found ourselves tiptoeing around the house so we could save what few needles were left on the tree. The closer it got to Christmas the worse it got. The perfect tree was practically naked.
On December 25th we rose to a beautiful morning with lots of presents to be opened. As we settled in to begin passing out the gifts I decided to give our dogs, Maggie and Nicky, their presents first so we could open ours in peace. I handed them each a snack and then I gave them each a stuffed toy to play with to keep them occupied. Of course, Maggie, the sheepdog, decided she wanted the toy we gave to Nicky, a mixed breed from the SPCA. She decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed the toy from Nicky’s mouth. Nicky, being very stubborn, decided he wasn’t going to give in that easily and a terrible fight ensued.
As White Christmas played softly in the background, Maggie and Nicky were going at it big time, right underneath the Christmas tree. Slobber, hair and tree needles were flying all over everything. I yelled for Robbie to fetch me a glass of water to throw in Maggie’s face to calm her down because I had read once that this was a good way to break up a dogfight. The theory is you throw the water in the dog’s face and it distracts them from the fight. I wasn’t so sure it would work, but I was desperate at that moment.
Robbie quickly came back with a large glass of water in her hand.
“Throw the water!” I yelled, as I tried to pull Maggie out from under the tree. Maggie had Nicky pinned down and I was afraid she would hurt him since she was much bigger than him.
“Okay,” Robbie yelled taking careful aim. But instead of throwing the water on Maggie, she emptied the whole glass of water all over me. I was drenched from head to toe. I screamed so loud when the water hit me that the dogs finally fled the room.
There I stood in my wet pajamas beside the Christmas tree. By now, all the remaining needles had fallen from the tree and the wrapping paper on the gifts was torn and wet from water and slobber from the dogs. This was not how I had envisioned my Christmas morning with the family. Of course, once I changed into dry clothes, we had a great laugh about the whole thing and we did finally enjoy our Christmas day, especially after I stopped expecting it to be perfect.
Sometimes, even with the best-made plans, the unexpected can and does happen. We visualize how everything is going to be and we hope for perfection. Our joy level is often measured by our expectations. We place a lot of stress and strain on ourselves because we want everything to be just right, but life doesn’t always go as we plan and seldom do things turn out to be perfect.
The great news is God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. He loves us just as we are, with all our blemishes and imperfect lives. Yet we strive to be the perfect Christian and when things don’t go as planned we feel as if we’ve failed and God no longer cares for us because we didn’t meet our version of His expectations. Our joy shrinks or rises on our expectations.
Galatians 3:2 says, “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it; how do you suppose you could perfect it?”
Stop trying to measure your joy by whether or not you live the perfect life or have the perfect Christmas. God’s not impressed with, nor does He demand, perfection. All the planning and all the work have already been completed. There’s nothing we can do or say to make Him love us more. He loved us first. So the next time you’re expecting perfection, but instead you end up with a dogfight under a naked Christmas tree, remember, God has given us the perfect gift; the gift of salvation. And it is still bringing good tidings of great joy. Now that’s perfection.