“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:1-3 (NIV)
While the rest of the world shops at four a.m., seeking bargains that aren’t really bargains, I have my own “Black Friday” traditions. I make it a point to go nowhere and buy nothing on that day in my own little protest against the consumer market. Instead, I sleep late, rising only when rested. Then, I put on Christmas music and begin hauling boxes downstairs from my Christmas closet (formerly oldest son’s closet) and enter into a decorating frenzy. My goal is to have the house substantially decorated and most of the boxes put away before husband gets off work. Long ago, I learned that having the house in total upheaval when he comes home is not conducive to our marriage. Youngest son and his girlfriend helped me get the artificial trees out of their boxes and fluffed so they didn’t look squashed and pathetic. I was doing pretty well on my self imposed deadline even though I took a few hours to cut some glass and load the kiln. Then, two things happened to set me back. First, I picked up a box wrong and hurt my back. Actually, it was probably not the small bin full of garland that did me in, but moving furniture earlier. It hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe, and I had to sit down. That just made it worse. I did some stretches and took some Advil and kept working knowing that movement was better than getting stiff. But, it sure put a damper on my enthusiasm. My undoing was when I opened up a box and found oldest son’s Christmas stocking. It hit me then that he would not be home for Christmas this year. Truth be told, even if he weren’t on the other side of the world, he probably would not be home as he would be celebrating with his girlfriend. As much as I am enjoying my emptying nest including that extra closet to store Christmas stuff, children are supposed to come home for Christmas! My aching back and my saddened heart drained me of my Christmas spirit and for a time, I understood what the phrase “Black Friday” really means. A stern talking to myself about how blessed I am and listening to Handel’s Messiah to remind me of the true meaning of the season lightened my mood enough to that I could finish my decorating. Too often, we try to make Christmastime perfect, when in reality, while we can make the surface and surroundings look that way, the same things that plague us all year long can mess up the bright, shiny image we want to project. The answer to a gloomy mood comes from lowering our expectations and focusing on Jesus Christ Who came to bring light into our dark world. I will miss oldest son this season, but I will see him again in a few months, just like someday, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, I will see God’s Son face to face as well.