Sometime, somewhere along the line, I became The Grinch.
No Seriously. I have been a Christmas-hater for at least a few of the past several years. Nothing ever turns out like I want it to and I always feel like Christmas sneaks up and catches me unaware and completely unprepared. As a card carrying member of the Control Freak Confederation of America, this makes me more than a little uncomfortable.
During advent I run like a crazy person from practice to practice, speeding past lighted houses, both garishly and beautifully decorated, without really seeing what is there. It's just more strings of lights blinking a bright red and green. Each year I see houses where people have pulled out all the stops, taking hours and hours of time to construct masterpieces of lighted topiary and figurines. I have even sneered at the blow-up, lighted snow globes with the Santa and all his reindeer in them. These are displays that people have labored hard to create and they are righteously proud of their work, and yet, I sniff my disapproval.
Yes, I have become positively Grinch-like in my disdain for December.
But one day, last week, I took my little niece, Maria, to a friend's house to play. Every time we passed Christmas lights she would let out a very genuine "Oooooohhhh!" or "Wow! Aunt Katie! Look at those lights!" I was forced to slow down and look at the lights. I even found myself taking detours so that we could go past houses where there were particularly "outstanding" displays just to hear the sound of her wonder from the back seat. It made my heart swell (just a little bit) with joy.
This evening, while waiting for my clothes to dry, I was reminded of this joy and wonder when I saw a status update from the Ironic Catholic in which she was awarding prizes for best of show in her local community's light show. Her family's Best of Show pick was a house decorated like "Vegas on Crack complete with Santa popping out of the house and giving the kiddos small candy canes." Just the description made me laugh.
Why do people go to all this trouble? Why spend what looks to be several long days putting up a display that will only last one month or so?
For the same reason that God sent His only Son to be one of us: Love.
We are created in the image and likeness of God and as he is a creator, so we are, too. As He loves us, so we, as Christians love others and delight in spreading that joy to others. We delight in going overboard for the people we love. We make use our creativity to express how we feel about another, whether it's celebrating the love of God for us, or creating an eye-popping surprise for all your neighbors' kids.
So, the next time I see a house with flashing lights (all out of time) and six different blow-up Santa scenes in the front yard, I promise not to think "Oooooookaaaayyyyy....".
I promise to smile, instead.