Misty Garrison » Gathered Fragments

christmas basket…

This past Friday I had the extraordinary privilege of speaking at the Evergreen Christmas Banquet. What a wonderful night with a group of amazing ladies. And we all survived with minimal damage, although there was much laughing & crying (not just me).

Thought I would share the words the Lord granted me with you all here. Just in case someone out there needs to “hear” them. Realize that some of the post was made more powerful in person with my blubbering & visual effects. But I think you will get it.

Thanks again, Ladies of Evergreen, for the honor of sharing a beautiful evening with you all. Maybe we can do it again sometime ; ).

The theme of the banquet & title of my speech:

“What is in your Christmas Basket??

So this is finally going to be the year. The year that you put everything else aside and focus on Christ during Christmas. You are determined to keep it simple. No. Matter. What. Just you and the Christ-child. But then. Reality sets in. And the Christmas pageant at school collides with your practice for the cantata at church. And you just found out that sweet hubby’s company Christmas party is in conflict with Aunt Mabel’s yearly hanging of the green party. And the next thing you know a bunch of “stuff” has overtaken the peace & joy of the season, not to mention the Savior. Like…

The pain of loss:

Memories of past hurts & the bitterness of knowing that you are still estranged from that loved one

Fresh wounds from the death of a precious one leaving you raw & incapable of celebrating. The only “waiting “ you can manage is for them to walk through the door again. You resent all the hoopla. All the traditions & activities feel like a lump of lead in your belly. You want desperately to shout, “Trees are nothing! Feasts are nothing! Lights are nothing! Music is nothing! Gifts are nothing!”

Or perhaps the loss is but a distant memory. And in your own desperation you would give anything to trade the fog & the numbness of years past for that intense pain because at least it forced you to the stable and then the cross, because the straw & the blood were they only things holding you together.

The pressure of traditions:

The Hanging of the Greens & the Lighting of the Tree
Elf on the shelf (Who on earth started that nonsense?!?! I don’t own a gun, but if I did….)
Gingerbread houses
Cookie decorating
Ornament making
Advent calendars
Driving around the neighborhood in your pj’s, drinking hot cocoa and looking at the beautiful lights.
Caroling
Santa Claus
Christmas Cards

{Is anyone else feeling stressed right about now, or is it just me?}

The memories of Christmas past (or your childhood):

Navigating the land mines of unrealistic expectations as you struggle between truth & fiction in your own mind

Or perhaps you allow the bad memories to steal your joy & the good ones to breed discontentment in your current situation.

The management of stress:

Shopping
Over-spending
Crowds
Lists
Busyness
Endless activities
Hustle & bustle
Pressure to pull off a Pinterest worthy Christmas
Disappointment & disillusionment caused by unrealistic expectations & perfectionism

The requirement of travel:

Across town
Across the country
Across the room to the spouse you haven’t spoken to in weeks, perhaps months.
Across the hall to the child whom you crushed with your harsh, impatient words yet again.
Across town to the estranged adult child who has broken your heart with their wayward heart & poor choices.
Across the chasm of your own depravity.

The responsibilities of a good hostess:

preparing for out of town guests
in-laws
pressure to keep everyone happy & entertained
effort to always get along
Christmas parties & more Christmas parties

The desire to serve:

Christmas angels
Bell-ringing
Adopting a family
Volunteering at homeless shelter
Sponsoring an international child
Operation Christmas Child
Christmas Offerings
Random acts of kindness

The true spirit of the holiday:

Peace
Love
Joy
Merriment
Good cheer
Wonder
Belief
Miracle
Magic
Excitement
Anticipation

{Side note here: at this point in person the precious baby Jesus has been overtaken by folded slips of paper with each of the above “Christmas” items on it. I dropped them in as I said them. The rest might make more since if you know that.}

And right about now is when you realize that you can no longer see the baby Jesus. What, in the name of all things holy, has happened to him. He was just here a moment (okay, it’s been more than a few days) ago. And really what kind of eternal implications does it have for you & your family if you lose the holy child? And, as luck would have it, the church Bunco ladies are on their way over as we speak! Oh the horror, and the judgment & condemnation…

Sheer panic nestles in and gets comfortable. And just when you are about to pump the dog’s stomach, tear the house apart like a crazed lunatic, and set up the interrogation room for your children or grandchildren depending on the situation… It dawns on you. He is right where you left him. In the bottom of the basket. Underneath all the Christmas stuff.

Being the master problem solver you are, you quickly unbury the child & place him atop the mountain of his birthday festivities. It doesn’t take you long to realize that it is going to take more than a baby to cover up this mess. “Nothing but the blood” begins to play in your mind. But there is no time for blood at Christmas, right? Especially in a crisis like this. It will just have to wait until Easter.

Instead, being the Pinterest savvy girl that you are, you quickly recall all those pins you have on your home organization board. Baby. Blood. Pshaw. What you decide you need is more baskets. So that there would be room for all this. And Jesus would no longer be buried. Because who are you to place him back in the tomb of your own making?

But now you have a new problem. More baskets requires more hands. And you can’t make a quick run to Hobby Lobby for more hands. Yet. So now begins the juggling act. Some of you have perfected it. I only wish I could keep half of the baskets in the air that “Super Mom” can without finding myself on the couch, rocking in the fetal position. But in order to avoid dropping one of your baskets, you can no longer focus on him. Or her. Your sister in need. You know, the one sitting right beside you. Instead, they become nothing more than part of the blurry audience of your ridiculous show.

What we really need, Ladies, is a bigger basket. Not to put all the other stuff in. No. What we really need is to climb into the basket ourselves. To be alone in His presence. That we might fall in love with Jesus – the favored one. Again. Or perhaps for the first time. That by clawing our way through the “stuff” & crawling into the basket, we might offer ourselves as living sacrifices. Our gift to the Savior. Our very lives. Clamber in. And consecrate yourself to him. Again. And again. And instead of choosing to “just hang in there” this holiday season, may we hold tight to Jesus.

And in a few weeks, when the tinsel comes down and the bustle comes to a screeching halt, you will be tempted to pack the basket away as well. Don’t. You. Dare. Do not wrap it in tissue paper for safe keeping. It is meant to be broken. It is meant to get dirty. Just like he who left the majesty of heaven & clothed himself in humanity. Trading his kingly robe for the cloak of our sin. Let us live likewise. Broken & poured out with our hands dirty. For others that they might also experience the gift of birth & his presence.

So in a few months, when you notice that you have picked up a few more baskets along the way try handing one to a friend. Quit pretending to have it all together. Give her permission to carry your burden. And perhaps offer to carry one of hers.

And then in a few more months, when you notice the pile of laundry, the ever missing car keys, the dusty Bible, or the stack of homework on top of your basket… Please allow someone the authority to speak into your life & to ask you when the last time was that you crawled in & whether or not you left {insert your struggle here} in there at his feet when you climbed out. And then ask her the same thing.

“Sometimes, when things are going well, we might too easily forget that we have only one sure, immovable, dependable strength – Jesus, who was a baby one and is always and forever God. That is what holds us and keeps us whether we or not we can carry out our traditions. May our decorations, gifts, and festivities – or lack of them – never block our view of him but always point us toward him.

May this time be a reflection of what our lives are – gratitude for the promises that were fulfilled when God gave us the gift of his Son and anticipation of and preparation for Christ’s coming again.

Only Christ matters.” {Noel Piper}

So, dear friends, what is in your Christmas basket this year? Take it and yourself to him.

Merry Christmas, precious ones!

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  • gmA - Well done my second born. You make your momma proud to be your momma.ReplyCancel

  • Becky Owens - You were such a blessing to us and I am so glad you spoke what was given to you to speak instead of watering it down. Good stuff!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - Wow, that was wonderful. Thanks for sharing this and making me stop and think about what is covering baby Jesus up in my life. I love that example. You are such a talented writer.ReplyCancel

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