Having a (lapsed) Irish Catholic father meant that I grew up knowing when the REAL 12 Days of Christmas were. It meant that I knew that the Christmas decorations remained until Little Christmas, or Epiphany. As a child, it meant that Christmas lasted that little bit longer, that I could read my brand new book on the floor by the light of the tree and pause whenever I wanted to savour the goodness and magic that is Christmas.
As a teen it began to lose meaning a bit. It was still nice to have the decorations up, have a pretty house just a little longer than most of my friends, to know in advance exactly which day mom would go crazy and make us clean up the "mess" of Christmas (hey, what's she suddenly got against Christmas!?). It also meant that I drove everyone crazy complaining about Nativity sets with the wise men included and setting MY wise men far, far off from the stable.
As a married adult I continued the tradition. Dh, always willing to let me go tradition crazy (he really is the sweetest for this), just shrugged and let me have my way. As a mom with babies, Christmas often stretched late into January (and almost to March one memorable year). Epiphany? What's that? I'll undecorate when I get the energy!
This year, I have become my mother. I have energy, I am snow bound, and I have an organizing soul.
I really, really just want to forget the whole thing and clean up the mess! (why it was beautiful December 25th and just a mess December 26th I'm still trying to understand)
I've resisted thus far, because I finally remembered what Epiphany is. If you can't remember, here's a quick tutorial. With the help of Victoria's touching 12 days of Christmas posts, I have been trying to take this time to think more deeply about what Christmas means to me and what it meant to all the "characters" of that first Christmas.
I've been promising to share my 2008 To Do list with you all. It is divided into different areas of my life and I've been playing with it for days. At the very top of the list, and more important than the others, is to re-invite the Saviour into my heart, my life, and our home.
The Princess thinks Jesus is one of our friends. She asks, almost daily, when Jesus will be coming over. She loves to hear stories about Jesus; she thinks He was a pretty smart guy with His "rules" about loving each other and sharing and helping. She becomes quite distressed whenever anyone tries to discuss the Atonement or Crucifixion--why would people want to hurt such a nice guy? Are they mean people, Mama?
The other day she was pestering me with 18 billion questions as I was trying to make dinner, in the time-honoured tradition of 6 year olds everywhere. From school to art to tv to nice people vs mean people, she was making me crazy.
Right as I was about ready to snap, she asked "Will Jesus come to our house first when He comes back to the earth?".
Tired, irritated, sure I had just messed up my recipie, I used my dagger eyes and mean mommy voice and ground out "NO! Why would He come to such a messy house with such grumpy people?"
She looked right back at me and with tears in her eyes said "Oh, you're wrong Mama." And then she left the kitchen for better things.
I'm ashamed to admit that I did some stomping and banging before allowing her message to get through to me. When Jesus was on the earth, He didn't visit with the Joneses at their Martha-inspired home. He didn't dine with the Pharisees in the best restaurants. He ministered to the poor, the sick, the hungry. It is man that looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord "looketh on the heart".
I AM a better receptacle for His Spirit and guidance when I am organized--but that is because I am calmer and better able to hear Him when my house is in order. That does not mean He does not have things to say to me when my house is out of order. It has been ME yelling "No room at the inn!" when He would have rejoiced at my making a place for Him. I have been pushing Him out of my life with hundreds of variations of "don't come over, the place is a mess" or "it's been a rough day and I'm tired, let me watch ________ on tv and try me tomorrow", when all He has ever wanted was to help me; to energize me and teach me and love me.
So top of the To Do list for this year: Let Go. Let Him.
Everything else is just stuff. That's my Epiphany for the year.