Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Dreaming of the Perfect Christmas

Ah, Christmas memories. I have many of them, but they’re not all “Courier & Ives” type memories. Sometimes, even after all our
preparations and planning, things just don’t turn out quite like we expect.

I remember our family had one such Christmas. The problem began when Robbie Lee and I went out to pick out our family Christmas tree. We saw a sign that said they were selling Christmas trees for only twelve dollars each. It sounded too good to be true, but we stopped in to have a look around anyway. I was surprised to find a tree I liked and the price was actually just as they advertised, only twelve dollars.
We took our inexpensive tree home and decorated it with bulbs and lights, sharing memories with each ornament we hung on the tree. Our Christmas seemed to be off to a great start. We had the perfect tree at a perfect price and it was going to be a perfect Christmas.

 Later on, however, I soon found out why the tree only cost us twelve dollars. Every time we walked across the floor we could hear the needles falling off the tree. I’m not talking about a few needles here and there. Needles were dropping at an alarming rate. It was so bad we were afraid to walk past the tree. We found ourselves tiptoeing around the house so we could save what few needles were left on the tree. The closer it got to Christmas, the worse it got. The perfect tree was practically naked.

On Christmas day, we rose to a beautiful morning with lots of presents to be opened. As we settled in to begin passing out the gifts I
decided to give our dogs, Maggie and Nicky, their presents first so we could open ours in peace. I handed them each a snack and then I gave them each a stuffed toy to play with to keep them occupied. Of course, Maggie, the sheepdog, decided she wanted the toy we gave to Nicky, a mixed breed from the SPCA. She decided to take matters into her own hands and grabbed the toy from Nicky’s mouth. Nicky, being very stubborn, decided he was not going to give in that easily and a terrible fight ensued.

As “White Christmas” played softly in the background, Maggie and Nicky were going at it big time, right underneath the Christmas tree.
Slobber, hair and tree needles were flying all over everything. I yelled for Robbie Lee to fetch me a glass of water to throw in Maggie’s face to calm her down because I had read once that this was a good way to break up a dog fight. The way it was explained was, you throw the water in the dog’s face and it distracts them from the fight. I wasn’t so sure it would work, but I was desperate at that moment.

“Here’s the water,” said Robbie Lee looking very worried.

“Throw the water in Maggie’s face!” I yelled as I tried to pull Maggie out from under the tree. Maggie had Nicky pinned down and I was
afraid she would hurt him since she was much bigger.

“Okay, if you say so,” Robbie Lee yelled and took aim. Only instead of throwing the water on Maggie, she emptied the whole glass of water all over me. I was drenched from head to toe. I screamed so loud when the water hit me that the dogs finally fled the room.

There I stood in my wet pajamas beside the Christmas tree. By now, all the remaining needles had fallen from the tree and the wrapping paper on the gifts was torn and wet from water and slobber from the dogs. This was not how I had envisioned my Christmas morning with the family. Of course, once I changed into dry clothes, we had a great laugh about the whole thing and we did finally enjoy our Christmas day, especially after I stopped expecting it to be perfect.

Sometimes, even with the best laid plans, the unexpected can and does happen. We visualize how everything is going to be and we hope

for perfection. We place a lot of stress and strain on ourselves because we want everything to be just right, but life doesn’t always go as we plan and seldom do things turn out to be perfect. I’m so glad God does not expect us to be perfect. He loves us just as we are, with all our blemishes and imperfect lives. Yet we strive to be the perfect Christians and when things don’t go as planned, we feel as if we have failed and God no longer cares for us because we didn’t meet our version of His expectations.

Galatians 3:2 says, “Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off  to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it how do you suppose you could perfect it?” (The Message) 

Stop trying to live the perfect life. God is not impressed with, nor does He demand, perfection. If God had thought it was possible for us to live perfect lives, He would not have needed to send His Son Jesus to die on the cross. So just scrape the idea you have to be perfect right off your plate. All the planning and all the work has already been done for you. There is nothing you can do or say to make Him love you more. He loves you just the way you are.

So the next time you are expecting perfection, but you end up with a dog fight under a naked Christmas tree remember, God has given us the perfect gift; the gift of salvation. Now that's perfection.


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