Three things happened this weekend to put me in the Christmas spirit.
First, the Christmas ornaments made their magic migration from the dining room table to the branches of the tree. And as much as I liked the whole installation-art feel of the little snowmen and angels spread out across my placemats, I have to say they look rather marvelous hanging amidst the lights. It's satisfying, like returning wildlife to their native habitat.
Second, our friends Van and Carmine were baptized on Saturday. The ceremony was casual (we're a shorts & t-shirts kind of church when it comes to dunking) but SO inspiring. There must have been seventeen people who stood up and described what Jesus had done to make their lives better, then went under and came up to the promise of being made new. Maybe there's someone out there who could sit though an hour of mini-histories of God helping people break addictive drug use, wiggle free from depression, or leave a job/life they hated in faith that God had something better. I, however, am not that person. On Saturday, I made the connection about why Christmas is good news (aside from the presents. You all KNOW I love the presents). Jesus came so we could have abundant life. At the baptism, I saw 17 bits of evidence that he's making good on his promise. That's good stuff :) I also received the very encouraging cheers of my church friend Paul (Hi Paul!) who told me he reads the blog and supports my desire to decorate with chickens (or at least to blog about it). You gotta love unexpected encouragement like that!
Finally, our downstairs neighbor - a young boy of about ten - asked if he could decorate our communal porch with Christmas lights. Naturally, we said yes. "I can't wait until it gets dark to see how they look!" I enthused. Last night at about 9:45, we turned onto our street to see the most pitiful/wonderful display of Christmas cheer ever. Picture this: a single string of white lights coming out a side widow, crawling along the side of the house to the porch, where it meets up with several strings of colored lights, which wind around one side of the railing in no discernible pattern. That's it. And in it's abysmal lack of all things planned and perfect (not to mention symmetrical) it makes me happy. Jesus is the reason for the season, and sometimes he strings the lights a little crooked, just to see how we'll react :)
P.S. I typically don't go all Jesus-ey in my posts. But it's Christmas, which makes the topic a little hard to avoid. If you don't consider yourself a Jesus-ey person, thanks for bearing with me - I appreciate it :)