Well, I don’t really hate it, but “Why I’m uncomfortable with the question ‘Are you ready for Christmas?’” is too long for a blog title.
The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas. Sometimes people say Jewish families are lucky to celebrate Hanukkah over eight days. Isn’t that better than a month of rushing around terminating with a one-day of celebration with extra bags to carry to the trash truck? Historically, Christmas is twelve days long, beginning on December 25th. So, no rush if you’re still not ready!
But that’s not the reason “Are you ready for Christmas?” bugs me.
When someone asks me that, I have no idea what to say. What do they mean, “ready”? Do they mean have you shopped, cleaned, and baked enough?
Afraid and unprepared: how they were “ready” for the first Christmas
Zacharias was the first the angel visited and “fear fell on him.” The angel who told him “Fear not” told the same message to Mary, and then to Joseph. Then, the shepherds were “terrified.”
I’m not sure there could be a clearer depiction of unprepared than Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem, not even knowing where they would deliver the baby. The account is full of twists and turns of unexpected difficulty or danger.
“Ready”? Caught off guard is more like it. The innkeeper, the shepherds, the parents. Even the animals.
Scared and caught off guard: Check
I figured out a long time ago that there is no such thing as being perfectly “ready” to celebrate the holidays. The added restrictions of Rheumatoid disease ensure I don’t forget that lesson.
This disease like many others brings unexpected trouble. The medications can be terrifying, and the prospects of the disease itself are even more frightening. Symptoms. Side effects. Loss of function. No one is ready for these. And they are an unwelcome backdrop that can make getting “ready” for the holidays or anything else impossible.
Next year when someone asks me, “Are you ready for Christmas?” Maybe I should say, “Unprepared and worried. Check. Looks like I’m ready.”
Obviously, God did not leave them at that point of fear. Christmas is the unfolding story of His gift to us.
But, like I always told my kids when they were little, “Ready or not, Christmas comes. God’s gift is not dependent on us. Thankfully.”
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- Twelve Days of Christmas with Rheumatoid Disease