Monday, December 11, 2006

Parcel in the Post/Oh Yoda Tree

There are several things I could write about tonight, but I think I'll just narrow it down to the two most pressing.

Parcel in the Post
I got a card through the letterbox from the Royal Mail saying they had a parcel for me. This is always an exciting occurrance. I know that I have several things due to arrive soon: a present for Scott, the baby monitor I ordered from Mothercare, two packages of presents from my mom and a present from Devon and Liz. I couldn't wait to get to the mail depot after work to find out which it was.

It was none of the above! Now this is always even more exciting, when you don't know what it is or who it's from. So I got in the car, and as maybe we all do, I opened it immediately.

It was from my internet friend Alex.

Let it be known, Alex and I have never met, but it's funny how much I consider her a real-life friend. A couple of years ago, she knitted me the cutest hat, to which I, in response, painted her portrait. One day, we intend to cross the short distance of the island of Great Britain and meet.

Let it also be known, and publicly appreciated, that I have received many adorable baby gifts since I became pregnant, from family and friends. Schmooker has been given some of the cutest items in the world from people who already love her. We are thankful for and love every last gift you have sent us.

But oh my goodness, I just have to tell you that the things Alex knitted are to freaking die for.

(click on the photo to view all)

Alex, you are unbelievably awesome. COME TO SCOTLAND. (Or we'll just have to go down there!)

Oh Yoda Tree
I felt I ought to address this issue before anyone took any great offense, looking at our Flickr pictures.

Last year, I struggled a lot with the idea of Christmas. I wasn't even sure we ought to be celebrating it at all. There is no biblical mandate to celebrate the birth of Christ; we are only told to remember his death. I also wasn't sure how I felt about all the other Christmas things, like Christmas trees, presents, Santa, etc. It all seemed so pagan and worldly. I did a lot of reading up on the different origins of these traditions and what I found a lot of times upset me. It seemed that if celebrating Christmas were even acceptable at all, the way we do it currently was far from godly.

But a few things I read made sense to me. On the subject of celebrating Jesus' birth, I read a comment somewhere about how if a multitude of angels felt it was good to sing Glory to God in the Highest, in celebration of the birth of our Saviour, then surely it was right for us to do the same. Maybe the Bible never tells us to celebrate Christ's birth, but I came to agree that that doesn't mean it is wrong to do so. However, the way we were doing it still bothered me. Then I read something else, I do believe on a Messianic Jewish website/forum/something-or-other. A Christian non-Jew was asking the same kind of questions as me, and someone (a Messianic Jew, I believe) responded that in his family, they celebrated the holiday with a tree and presents, etc, but divorced the unreligious traditions from the story of Christ's birth. It was two different occasions. The tree and presents and family dinners was all part of a holiday, but they did not try to make those things religious. They shared the story of Jesus birth with their children as they would any other story in the Bible, but they didn't try to combine the religious story with the unreligious holiday.

This made sense to me. After all, family dinners and presents aren't bad in and of themselves. Teaching your children about giving and receiving graciously is a wonderful thing. A big decorated tree in your home isn't necessarily bad either. What I felt was bad was somehow trying to make all that about the most fundemental aspect of my entire life, indeed of the entire world, Jesus Christ. What trees and tinsel and Santa Claus have to do with my Saviour and Lord, well, there is no relationship.

So I decided that's how I would approach Christmas. I would separate the two ideas - the birth of Jesus from the decorations and presents. I wouldn't try to make the holiday 'symbolic' (though if my kids draw symbolism between the 'gift' of God and the gifts at Christmas, then that is fine). I will emphasise that Jesus was born so that he could live as a human being without sin and later die to take our place as a holy sacrifice. Scott and I will read our children the story of Jesus' birth.

We will give presents as something separate.

This separation settles the discomfort I felt about Christmas as a whole. It also leads me to become more and more annoyed at everyone throwing a big hissy fit over which department stores aren't saying 'Merry Christmas' anymore because OH MY GOODNESS, ARE YOU SERIOUSLY TRYING TO KEEP CHRISTMAS LINKED WITH CONSUMERISM?

So basically, I'm only saying all of this so that no one thinks the new 'Holiday' tree topper in our house is pure sacrilege...

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