It isn’t that we have lavish decorations. Those things require money and storage space, with the latter being perhaps the greatest of all constraints. We stick to one awkward and patchy tree, scavenged clippings strewn above the bookshelves, and random candles scattered about. Every space in our little home has to be highly functional, so we just don’t have the luxury of the magazine-worthy Christmas decor.
I’m ok with that, because I love how our few Christmassy things bring unspeakable coziness to our space. And I love the traditions that go along with our decking, our cold trek to Eastern Market, our speedy decorating of the tree (16 ornaments can be hung surprisingly quickly), and our annual viewing of Elf with gingerbread cookies and festive drinks. I love these things, because they are ours, the traditions we established as an “us” to carry through the years. We always make sure to get back from Thanksgiving travels by Saturday night or Sunday afternoon at the very latest, just to give us time to spruce our home and sit in the glow of our tree before the business of December sets in.
But this year, that didn’t happen.
If you follow along on the grams, you saw that we were in a terrible car wreck coming home from Kentucky. I keep on closing my eyes and feeling afresh that impact, the crush of metal, the sight of the mangled car. I stood by the highway and cried for a long time, and we are looking at a long road of insurance dealings and car shopping, as we now have no vehicle. It will be an expensive road, a stressful road, a frustrating one. We spent the first part of this week making sure we were ok physically, nursing aches and pains.
Still, we walked away from that wreck, as did the other people involved.
I keep playing over that too, reminding myself that God is good and that we are safe, when so much logic says that the wreck could have been far worse than a totaled car, sore bodies, and worried hearts. We made it back to DC late Sunday night, and decided to decorate our apartment Monday night in spite of the rain that made our trek difficult and the weary souls that made us less in the mood. We covered our crooked tree in lights and feeble ornaments, tossed branches above the bookshelves, and curled on the couch to watch Elf in the glow.
Immanual. God is with us.
I keep coming back to that, the promise of Christmas. I feel reminded of it every time I look at our tree and feel thankful that we made it home in one piece to ring in another Christmas. I feel it like a gentle warmth spreading through my cold and tired body. And I am also reminded that Christmas doesn’t just mean that God is with us on his own. The incarnation set into motion a series of events that changed everything, that placed some of the character of God, his capacity to love, in humanity. We have been blown away by the support of our friends and family this week. Texts have flooded in offering cars, rides to the grocery and doctor, prayers, comfort, laughter, and support. We have been surrounded by so many people who remind us that Immanuel came to not only be with us, but to inhabit our very souls and be his hands and feet in this world.
God is with us indeed.