I remember my Mom putting on the Johnny Mathis Christmas album and we’d start decorating the Christmas tree. When that album ran its course, we’d finish trimming the tree to the Captain Kangaroo Christmas album.*
Fast-forward 20 years . . . first Christmas in our first house. I wanted to re-create those same nostalgic feelings for my family.
Abundant nostalgic Christmas tunes*? Check.
Tree and decorations? Check.
Now all I had to do is decorate the tree with my bride and voila! Instant memories!
*insert record-needle scratch
No one told me that in my wife’s family growing up, her father painstakingly wrapped the Christmas lights around each branch of the tree, and that she’d bring that expectation into our marriage.
No one told me that putting said Christmas lights on a Blue Spruce the way her father did would make my fingers ache for weeks. (Meanwhile I’ve been lobbying our church to cover “Christmas decorating” in our pre-marital mentoring program).
Lastly, no one told me my tiny dog would assume that the tangled mess of lights yet to be put on the tree by The Dad would be seen as a threat to be attacked. Every time the lights would move along the floor, the tiny dog would bark at and then bite the cord . . . every . . . time.
The combination was a disastrous blow to my hopes and my pride.
I couldn’t control my wife’s expectations. And I couldn’t control the prickly-ness of the pine needles. (Side Note: Fraser Firs are worth the extra money).
And, most of all, I couldn’t control that tiny four-pound dog. It barked and bit at my Christmas lights one too many times. Without recognizing the barking and biting in my own soul, I grabbed that poor thing by the scruff and threw it across the room into the pillows of the couch with the same motion I’d throw a baseball.
The dog bounced off the couch, did a fantastic athletic move, landed on its feet, and returned to the lights to continue its attack.
Thank goodness the Holy Spirit was stirred in me immediately following that moment. God was teaching me about myself:
1. I’m just like the dog.
I foolishly chase after “shiny” things. Not only do I chase them, I return to them . . . foolishly, and frequently, even though I know it won’t work out in the end. God sees this and it probably ticks Him off in such a way that He wants to grab me by the scruff and throw me across the universe.
2. God doesn’t treat me like I treated the dog.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
I deserve to be thrown like a rag doll into the very depths of hell, but God doesn’t do that. By His grace we have Jesus, the best Christmas gift, who took all of my hell-qualifying deeds on Himself.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!