Welcome, Everyone! Have a “Mary” Christmas!
I’m grateful for a couple of open slots on my blog calendar because I get to chat with you about Christmas. My novellas. And the word remember.
A Christmas to Remember and A Christmas Measure of Love, two novellas tucked between two novels, The Calling of Ella McFarland and The Mending of Lillian Cathleen. Together they comprise the first four components of The Women of Rock Creek series.
Both novellas transport readers back to Oklahoma and the banks of Rock Creek. Yes, we take a peek into the Evans cottage and learn a bit about six darling girls. But mainly these stories do what we celebrants invariably do at Christmas time—remember.
A Christmas to Remember
Christmas is coming to Oklahoma, and expectations are knocking on Ella Evans’s front door.
She and Andrew married three years ago. They took 5 orphaned sisters, ages 2 to 6, into their home and hearts. Celebrated the birth of their own daughter two years past and grieved at the grave of their infant son. They have experienced great joy and deep heartache that challenge their assumptions about life and love.
Determined to care for her family with help from no one, Ella is worn to a frazzle. From the kitchen to the school room, chores are piling up. Yet Christmas won’t wait.
What set Ella’s feet onto the path of perfection? How is her pursuit affecting her husband, children, and calling? And what will it take to redirect Ella to the way of grace?
It’s Christmas, 1908, and Ella’s life is about to be transformed. Again.
A Time for Remembering
I identify with Ella. Unfortunately, I can remember some nights of no more than two or three hours sleep in my days of mothering and housekeeping and holiday celebrating—while working full time as a special education teacher. I recall dragging myself to work in a daze many mornings and arriving home with zero energy for my family.
Why I thought I had to keep a perfect home and make Christmas “perfect” (whatever that is) and assure my kids were perfect too I’ll never know. If I could do it again, I’d cut my To-Do List in half. And enjoy my family more.
I‘d sift through my decorations and decide which five or six main items I’d use and set the others aside for the following year. I’d ask my children to join in the decorating and let them do it the way they want. Who cares if the ornaments are all on the lower half of the tree? Or the garland hangs uneven everywhere I look? Why did I care more about the fluff than the substance of Christmas?
The answer sort of hurts.
A Word From Jesus
This subject brings my thoughts to a passage in Mark 2 where Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing his disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath. His answer in verse 27 returns to me nowadays at Christmas time. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
For purposes of making my point, I’m taking some liberty with that sacred verse and switching it up a bit and pray the Lord approves: “Christmas was made for Christians, not Christians for Christmas.”
When I lay that verse over my Christmas To-Do List, I have to tell you: I’m convicted. Oh, I know Christmas isn’t an ordained day you’ll find chapter and verse for, but I believe the principle of Christian freedom Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 10 fits Christmas. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (including the days we celebrate) and “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (that includes Christmas.)
So . . . Back to my original question to myself: Why did I think I had to make things perfect for Christmas? Was it for the glory of God? Ouch! I have to admit it was more for my own … if not glory, then self-satisfaction and a bit of pride.
A “Mary” Christmas
There’s so much evil in this world. It takes many shapes. At times it’s as plain as day. But at other times, it hides behind masks of goodness, slips in the back door, through cracks in our walls, and down our perfectly adorned chimneys. In a way, isn’t that the worst kind of evil—the kind that slips in unnoticed?
I‘m trying now to take more of a “Mary” approach to Christmas. Not Mary, the mother of Jesus. But Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. I confess I’ve lived my life a whole lot closer to ever-busy Martha than to sitting-at-Jesus’-feet Mary. But I’m trying to do better.
I want Christmas to bring God glory. This year that means foregoing the garland, outside lights, and seven course meal. And a long list of other “have-to”s from long ago. And I hope with every ornament hung, batch of cookies baked, string of lights strung, I’ll offer my labor to Jesus and place them at His feet.
May you and yours will have the most joyous and blessed Christmas in a month o’ Sundays.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary chose what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Share your thoughts on overdoing it at Christmas—or anytime. I’m giving away both novellas in ebook format in A Rock Creek Christmas Novella Collection to someone who joins our chat.
“Mary” Christmas, ya’ll!