Thursday, December 3, 2015

Skinny Tree {and the garland winner!}

I've made it no secret that I fall into a deep constitutional angst every year at Christmas. It's as sure as the tides, as predictable as the moon, as maddening as Calvin's morning mood when he's short on sleep.

It's not all bad, this festivity swirling in the air.

For one thing, there's the fact that I love an excuse to redecorate my living room.
For another, when our Sunday school class read The 5 Love Languages eons ago, my top love language was Gifts. I love an excuse to shop for people I love.

And then there's the age-old issue of Crack Bark. I don't think I need to tell you how much I love an excuse to ruin my oral hygeine for the greater good of gaining six pounds and living in elastic-waisted pants for the duration of winter (hint: winter is lonnnng in northern Indiana) because I can't-stop-won't-stop making it and shoving it in my slightly-fuller face.

Aside from all that, I'm forever trying to make sense of Christmas. Like most of us, I enjoyed a childhood where I knew the "whole point" was baby Jesus, but it all sort of sifted through the cracks of everything else. It now strikes me as one of those classic, "Do what I say, not what I do" life moment. 

I guess I'd rather do what I can to walk a different way. With sticky teeth and tinsel in my hair.
See? Complicated.

For a week or so, I had decided to skip a tree this year. There's simply no room in this inn for a tree.
I tried stripping its backside of branches and shoving it into an awkward corner last year, but I'll be honest, the whole maneuver gave me the blues.

I'd like to imagine myself as someone entirely different, someone who rises above the machine - whatever on earth "the machine" even is... I must have secret dreams of being a hippy. I want to take the streets and do...something.

I want to be a renegade, when what I really am is ordinary. Totally normal. At least half-mixed up about most things. Geez Louise, is "ordinary" a hard pill to swallow. It's the fruitcake of defining characteristics. And yet, not a year goes by that we don't joke around about fruitcake. It never goes away! It has bonded us for life, in its own, weird way. I don't think accepting our boring humanity is any different.

My name is Shannan, and I don't have stuff figured out. I'm passionate about loving my neighbor and selfish as heck. I want to give everything away then fill myself back up with more more more. And do it all over again. I'm tired and hopeful, an inspired cynic. I'm glaringly typical, but I hope you'll be my friend.

Putting up our gangly, off-whack Christmas tree is one of a handful of childhood memories that instantly fills me with a distinct, can't-articulate-it feeling. It messes with my internal chemistry, changing me for just a second, not unlike catching a whiff of Brut cologne or drinking Coke from a glass bottle.

Yada yada, we bought a skinnier tree at our favorite thrift store, with a coupon.
It's as though the universe was just waiting for me to admit my humanity and just cave already.

So here it is, in its narrow splendor. We jammed it into the only possible cranny. We brought out all of our weirdest, tackiest ornaments and of course, our catalog garland.

I have never loved a Christmas tree more.

Although I think I say that every year...

(except last year because that was just awkward for everyone)

Wouldn't you know it, it hasn't ruined everything. Jesus came so I didn't have to have all the answers. I'm sitting here in this tension, but he is with me in my struggling and confusion. With me to the end. That's what changes things.

In other news, hey, Raye Marie, you won yourself a catalog garland! Email me your address at shannandmartin@gmail and I'll put it in the mail.

We're gearing up for Calvin's orchestra performance tonight. You know how I feel about symphonies. And on top of that, I think I have a prodigy on my hands. Is this a normal mom reaction?? :)

Tomorrow I head to Trinity Church in Holdredge, Nebraska to speak at their women's Christmas brunch. It's kind of the 11th hour, but if you'd like to join us, call the church to RSVP!

Happy Thursday afternoon, festive homies.