Our Christmas tree decorations have taken a hit this year. Small pudgy hands have popped a manger out of a stable and briefly separated a little white church from its steeple.
Another creative soul, with one of my old purses slung over her shoulder and tottering in her aunt’s red high heels, was caught trying to remove a strand of gold beads from the tree. Why, of course, jewelry. We grown-ups can be so shortsighted sometimes.
The more valuable decorations (and who are we kidding, they’re all expendable), have been hung above the three-foot mark. An ornament I received as a gift last year has been moved to a higher branch as part of our Christmas protection program. The ornament is made of salt dough that was rolled out, cut with a gingerbread-man mold, baked in the oven and then painted neon pink.
“I wrote your name on it,” beamed the 4-year-old boy who made it.
Sure enough, in silver paint, he had painted “Lori” although with a few minor changes. The o, r and i had been scrambled, and the back of the o was so flat it looked like an a. Picture a bright pink gingerbread man that says L-i-a-r hanging from our tree and you have my new favorite decoration.
The ornament is a keepsake because of the sweet child who made it, but also because, whether by coincidence or providence, it is a fresh reminder of the real meaning of Christmas.
Each year it is a challenge to paw through all the wrapping, glitz and glitter and hold the real meaning of Christmas. The dangling sign that says, “Peace Love and Accessories,” hanging at a popular clothing store hits two out of three. The banner at the hair salon that says, “Christmas is giving the gift of beauty” grasps an element of truth and then turns sharply to promoting gift certificates for manicures and pedicures. Then there is the sign at the mall asking, “Is it better to give or to get?”
The sights and sounds of the commercial Christmas are entertaining, mesmerizing and enjoyable, but they are cheap impostors and fleeting shadows of the real thing.
The amazing, jaw-dropping, eye-popping wonder of Christmas is that the Son of God took on the form of man and came to Earth.
I’m reminded of the little boy scared of a thunderstorm. His mother told him not to be afraid because God was always with him, to which the boy replied, “I know God is here, but I wish he had skin on.”
The true heart of Christmas is that God put on skin. Deity became flesh. In a mysterious convergence of time and space, and an intersection of the natural and supernatural, God once again extended his kind hands and strong arms to mankind. He came for the broken, hurting, can’t-seem-to-get-it-right, self-centered, proud, sad, violent, treacherous, devious and arrogant.
He came for us all, even Liars and Loris. A gingerbread man in neon pink and silver is a perfect reminder.