As Christmas approaches, I’ve been thinking of the memories I have shared with my family. One memory in particular always makes me smile.
All 5 of my siblings, spouses, nieces and nephews would celebrate Christmas at my parents house. Prior to opening gifts, the grandkids would all go and sift through grandma’s closet to find just the right accessories to dress up as Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, Shepard and even a sheep.
Someone would read the Christmas story and the grandkids, based on the character they chose, acted out the Christmas story. I smile as I think about how excited they were to be part of the story. So often when we read the story, our perspective is of Mary serene and sure of herself. We imagine her smiling and joyful because such an amazing thing was asked of her. We see her as she was in all the pictures and Nativity scenes… lovely, peaceful, wearing spotless garments, draped in blue and hair perfect. The barn looked clean and lovely, and the manger seemed as though it was always meant for a baby.
I have to imagine the real scene was a lot more stressful and a little more dramatic, but I also have to believe that the people chosen to be parents to Christ probably were living with some pretty good perspective and were grateful for the place they were given.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about perspective and being grateful this week. Because try as I might, life is never going to be perfect and go just how I’d like it to. I would love to have all my children and grandchildren together at Christmas. I would love to be celebrating with my mom, dad, and siblings. And, I’m sure there was nowhere on Earth Mary would have rather been than in a safe home with a roaring fire and a nursemaid to give birth to her son.
But she got three wisemen and a drummer boy and a supportive husband while they treasured their moments on a bed of hay. I get to spend Christmas with my husband, step-daughter and her family. I will have moments on the phone with mom, and the rest of my family.
Mary and Joseph, while making the first home for their child in that stable, accepted where they were and recognized where they were going because they acknowledged their blessings instead of dwelling on their misfortunes.
So here’s my challenge to all of you today: think back over the last week to a time when you felt like you were in a stable instead of the inn. And then look at that time again and see where God put a blessing in the hay for you. Because if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the blessing is always there if you take the time to look for it.