“So this is Christmas. And what have you done? Another year older. Gee, this ain’t fun!” Loosely adapted from some song I heard once on the radio.
I said that 2012 was an awkward Christmas. It’s true. What I didn’t say is how 2013 was this crazy chaotic blessing of an occasion with sugar plum fairies dancing and hope sprunged anew. We had a new baby. New babies always make Christmas instantly glorious. Well, I guess there are exceptions. But 2013 was not one.
The years would pass though. Here we are four years later and now, December 16th is our Christmas Eve. We’re almost nearly ready for it. It has a way of sneaking up on you – even if it is a week early. But this is my reality now. Some of you – statistically about half of you reading this – have this reality. The two words that we don’t want to say out loud this time of the year or really any time of the year: Shared custody.
I’ll be honest (because what’s the point of not being honest?) – it’s hard. It could make me bitter. I could be that wicked stepmother who just decides, screw it, I’m not buying gifts and we’re not having two Christmases.
But what kind of person does that? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I get it. I said it. It’s hard. Jealousy, envy, heartache, they gang up on your heart and drag it down. Is there any wonder just about every fairy tale has stepparents featured in some way and they are never, ever nice?! The Grimm brothers are either just really cynical or ahead of their time. It is a lot of work to get a stepfamily to not be the step part and act like the family part, and I certainly know of people who just give up. With all the pressures of the season, trying to have a perfect – or even just nice and warmhearted – anything is a losing battle, so why bother, right?
I’ll tell you why I decided to bother. I’ll tell you why I try to go all in, overboard, and epic. I’ll tell you why it’s important to me that all our kids get in on the glory and magic of Christmas.
Christmas is for stepfamilies too. Just like it’s for broken people. Broken families. Broken hearts. It’s for lonely people. It’s for orphans and widows. And it’s also for stepkids. It’s for the kids caught in the middle of a situation they would never choose and probably never really understand. It’s for the kids who have been through the ringer – those who have shut down emotionally because they’re tired of feeling angry and hurt. Those who have social anxiety, unsure of who what when and where they are or what they’re expected to be. The kids who feel broken. The kids who don’t know what to call all the new people in their lives. The kids who just want to wake up one day and have this all be a really long, bad, confusing dream.
Kids need Christmas. All of them. Because Christ was a kid too. Because Jesus came as a child and he loves children. He knows we adults get in their way. He knows we keep them from really fully seeing Him, with our attitudes and agendas, our self-absorbed lifestyles, and our own neediness. Instead of pointing to Jesus for all things, we vie for their affections, comparing and competing, letting our arrogance take the lead.
I want a humble heart, dear Lord. I want our kids, more than anything – more than the best memories, the best gifts, the best meals, the best whatever – to see Jesus. I want them to know his love for them. I want them to feel, touch, taste, see, and hear his love for me through me. I want them to leave my home knowing 200% that they are loved, accepted, wanted, prayed for, hoped for, lifted. I want them to have confidence, if in nothing else, in the Jesus I know. Oh, dear Lord, let them know you like I do. Let them know how your heart can replace every grinch’s heart. Let them see and wonder at the beauty of your Spirit making all the difference in all things. I pray you melt all hearts of stone and replace them with your heart. Today, every day, and whenever we celebrate Christmas, no matter what the calendar says.