For many of us, the build to Christmas is a natural, orchestral crescendo of joy and anticipation. We work less and less each day. The pile of gifts purchased grows while the Still-To-Buy list shrinks. As the radio stations play more and more Christmas songs and less and less (thankfully) adult top-40, we get more and more into the Yuletide mood.
Family will begin to arrive soon and the amounts of Eggnog, and other things, consumed over the next two weeks will be obscene. (Note to self, buy some stock in Eggnog and “other things” companies) The presents will get wrapped. We’ll attend parties, gatherings and a few extra church services as we focus our hearts and minds.
We are almost there.
There are others, too. There are those who work more and harder this month than any other. There are those who wear down the soles of their shoes, not in malls, but on streets. There are those that spend days packing toys and wrapping gifts, not for nieces and nephews, but for the poor and the homeless. While I brine a turkey for my family, my friend roasts 40 for a community meal.
We are almost there. Whoever we are, we are almost there.
Like the Magi and their entourage on a long journey in a foreign land, following a distant brilliance that draws us forward.
Like the donkey on the last few miles to Bethlehem, trudging along under a growing, uncomfortable weight.
Like the shepherds after the biggest party the sheep have ever ignored, walking away from the chorus of angels to find a baby that’s going to save the world.
Like Joseph as he leads his betrothed to an inn but will settle for a stable, wondering what the night and the future are going to bring.
Like Mary atop her stubborn steed, cringing with each contraction and already cherishing the love and hope of what will be.
Like the original cast of the original pageant, we are almost there.
Hang in there. Hang in there as you finish those lists, buy the rest of the gifts and settle on 3, make that 4, gallons of Eggnog. Hang in there for those last few days of work and service and keep smiling. Hang in there on these last few days of the journey. Hang in there when people push you forward and kick you in the ribs. Hang in there and when the parties are over, remember who the parties are really about. Hang in there and don’t be afraid to ask for directions to Bethlehem. Hang in there and remember that pain is always diminished with love and hope and prayer.
Whoever we are, we are almost there.