Not so Perfect Holiday

Not so Perfect Holiday

Nov 26, 2014

Not so Perfect Holiday

by Katrina Goodrich


Imagine a barn. Not an empty one used for photo ops, weddings, or a wild animal home, but one that is actually in use providing a haven for animals after a long day of work. Livestock under the best of circumstances release odors that are unpleasant. Crowded together in a warm barn after a long day, with little air circulation, I imagine the smell might be overwhelming. The air is extremely dusty and there isn’t anywhere that is truly clean to relax. Now imagine that you are nine months pregnant with your first child. People tell me, that among other things during pregnancy, your sense of smell is acutely increased.


There is a nice bed of hay to lay on that is mostly clean and dry. Probably uncomfortable but it’s better than the hard floor. Then your water breaks and the previously dry hay is becoming more uncomfortable by the minute. Labor begins and things get even messier. Giving birth is painful even with inventions like the epidural. There is no sanitary, modern hospital to make the experience easier. No doctors and nurses to make sure everything is proceeding correctly. All you have is your husband, your donkey, and a barn full of livestock belonging to strangers. You don’t even have family members or close friends who have been through this before to help you. Call me crazy, but I can’t imagine this being a very serene moment. Certainly it’s not perfect and holy.

Surreal sad Christmas.

This was Mary’s experience with the birth of Jesus. Mary was in a strange town sleeping in the barn at an inn because there wasn’t a place anywhere else. I don’t believe this is what she had in mind for the time or place of the birth of her first child.


Christians recognize the birth of Jesus as one of the most important and holy moments in history (next to the resurrection). December 25 is the designated day as Christmas — but we actually end up devoting an entire season to celebrating Jesus’ birth. People tend to be kinder and think of others during this time. We give gifts and make a point of getting in touch with people to tell them we love them and are thinking about them. We sing carols about the birth of Jesus — like O Holy Night, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, and Silent Night — that evoke an idyllic image of the birth of Christ. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that. I love the beauty of Christmas carols and how they remind us of the love God has for us in sending His Son. I love that during Christmas we are reminded of truth and love.


It’s just sometimes I tend to get wrapped up in the idea of a perfect Christmas. I want the perfect blanket of snow, a decorated tree, family, friends, a candlelight service. There isn’t any room for real life to intrude and mess things up. But, of course, it does. Things go wrong. We miss the candlelight service. Friends can’t come home. The tree looks like it should belong to Charlie Brown. It doesn’t snow and for some reason that detracts from our enjoyment of the holiday.


Conditions were not perfect the first Christmas and they aren’t going to be perfect for any other Christmas either. We should not allow the imperfections of the

season to ruin it. Even though circumstances were far from ideal for Mary, I don’t think that is what she was thinking about when she held Jesus. She was holding the gift of life for the first time and that made all the hardship worth it. Don’t let the imperfections of a holiday detract from the remembrance of the ultimate gift of life given to us all so many Christmases ago.



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