Baby Z and the meaning of Christmas

December 23, 2015

Tacoma Family Photography


Every Christmas I have the best of intentions. I will slow down. I will handmake meaningful gifts. I will give upcycled presents, experiences, and goods created by local makers. Every night of advent will be spent gathered around our Christmas tree reading thoughtful devotionals about the names of Jesus and the true meaning of Christmas. We will not be rushed and distracted. We will not become Too Busy. I bet you can guess where this is going.

I have a confession: Every year I cannot manage to create the Christmas magic I long for. Sure, we managed to bake and decorate dozens of cookies, ordered Christmas cards by the skin of our teeth, and I did shop locally at some fabulous boutiques which I love to frequent. And there were nights of time gathered around the table together, reading words of Truth and reflecting on advent… but not nearly as many as I had hoped. But actually,  I don’t think I made a single gift this year. In fact, I was an Amazon Prime fool.  I know it’s not about the stuff and the things and the doing, but I feel like I need to work so much harder to make it more than that. I want to make Christmas all magical and sparkly for my kids. I want them to feel the weight of this Advent, this longing we sit in. I want them to celebrate in the deepest part of their heart the fact of Emmanuel, God with Us. Because if the God of the Universe didn’t come for us, didn’t humble Himself and enter into the mess we made to rescue us, we would be hopeless.

The older I get, the more I understand that I just can’t add anything to the Story. It is enough on it’s own- with or without cookies and trees and advent candles and handmade gifts. Of course those things are all joyous ways to celebrate and help our hearts point in the right direction. But they are only pointers. The real magic is nothing we can conjure. It just is. And the best way to feel it is to sit back and listen. Wait. Receive. After all, it is a gift.

I have another story to tell you. It’s about a baby named Z. He was alone and needed a family. My friends, The Hepfers, decided to be his family. Every day they hold him and say “We love you. We are so glad you’re here. God has great plans for your life.” This is one of my favorite stories to tell. Just like you can’t really add much to the Christmas story, you can’t add much to a family’s story. Oh sure, there are lots of people who take beautiful pictures of people posing like it’s real life, styling things beautifully and making sure every detail goes with the mood board. But I’ll take this story any day over a styled shoot. What fills me with so much joy and gratitude is coming into a family’s home for a bit and seeing the beauty of their real life in all its- unbrushed teeth, wrinkled jammies, Legos on the floor glory. It’s one of the most beautiful things I know. You can’t fake the magic.

And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

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