I woke this morning after a 10 hour sleep. Such a thing is few and far between for me since kids have come along. But, my wife took the kids to my parents' house so that they could have Christmas with the cousins down there. Being in my position, travel is difficult to impossible before Christmas Eve services, so I stayed home to hunt and be there in case any questions arose about our service this evening--there were several calls.
This morning, I arose and began final preparations for Christmas Eve at our place. Dawna and the kids will return this morning along with my mom and dad. My sister and her two children will arrive as well.
My wife had already done a great job cleaning, so I proceeded to make a few final touches in the process. I put the decorative table cloths on the table. Vacuumed the floors. Cleaned the counter and island in the kitchen and made them ready for final preparations.
As I wiped the table, I noticed the marker stripes all over the place. I noticed the dings and places the kids had marred the finish. I noticed the food crumbs under their places where they sat. I took stock of the living room as it now stands, clean and ordered, and I pictured it a few hours from now with five little kids running around, pulling out toys, and leaving them to drag others to join them.
I smiled at the thought.
Here I was putting a few extra minutes into the hours my wife had put in to watch it descend into chaos only a few hours later. There's a bit of insanity in the thought.
But I wouldn't trade it. Not for a million dollars.
After struggling to have children for so long, I'd rather have a house full of kids who do everything possible to ruin a clean house than an empty house where no one even tries.
When it was just Dawna and I, Christmas was Okay. I enjoyed being with my wife. I hated the schedule at the church where I served. Christmas there was an exercise in wearing you out. It dampened the mood of the season.
But now, with my congregation and my children, Christmas truly is special. I can't wait to see the expressions on their faces as they open presents. I can't wait to see them all dressed up for church tonight. I can't wait to hear them talking about Santa coming and spreading their reindeer food on the lawn. I know I will get woken up way too early tomorrow morning, but in the scheme of things, it's okay. Their excitement will spread, and while I won't show much of it, I know in my heart I will be treasuring it all.
Sure, the house will be trashed. There will be wrapping paper and toys all over the place. Arguments will break out over who gets to play with what, but I will be content. I will be at peace. I'll look at all the chaos and remember Who is present in the midst of that chaos and the blessings He has given me in this life.
For many, Christmas time is busy, hectic, overwhelming, stressful, and (string together any number of adjectives here), but I see things differently. Because of Christ, Christmas isn't these things in the least. It truly is joyful, peaceful, and happy.
I hope yours is the same.