While rummaging through dresses in the thrift store, a set of hands came in front of my eyes, with placement on the next gown in my lineup, and I looked up. A woman with a crown on her head stood before me.
“I like your tiara,” I said.
The woman had long curly extensions. “It serves as a reminder for me. I’m valued. No one else may tell me today.”
“No doubt. We all need to remember our worth.”
She went to the other end of the dresses and flipped through them and we met in the middle again.
“It’s just I get worn down, you know, by this world. With this on, every time I look in the mirror, I see it.”
I purchased many things that day, including an antique ornament from Hallmark for my father (I hope he doesn’t read this), but my best thrift store find was the woman in this tiara.
All That Glitters
Matt Haig’s words have continually struck me in awe. He simply has a way at getting to the truth in 140 characters on Twitter, and his blog on Depression is no less worthy, and a timely read.
In this piece he talks about how depression can strike at the least likely times, even during the happiest time of the year – Christmas. He concludes, rightly so, that much of what is depressing about the holiday is that the glow of lights, both in people’s eyes, and on people’s houses, doesn’t last. Not to mention sometimes the buildup and expectations of what Christmas is and should be, falls short of any glory. Whether it’s a family visit gone horribly wrong, the feeling of being alone though surrounded by people, or family and friends forgetting us all together, there are too many triggers for sadness.
And yet the glitter of the holiday is rooted in an invisible crown, or a crown of thorns, whatever illustration you like best.
My daughter was asked last night what the Christmas story is about for a video being used in our Christmas Eve youth service. She said, “Jesus’ birth in a manger. There was no inn for Mary to birth him, so they were with the animals, and the sheep were eating hay. Oh, and the wise men, they didn’t arrive for like a year.”
A 6-year-old gets at the heart of the message. There was no glitter. My husband pointed out that if Mary and Joseph were returning to their hometown for a census, one of them most likely had family in Bethlehem, and yet there was no room for them in anyone’s home.
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
So Jesus could’ve been born in a castle, or at least a warm house, but he was born in a barn, or something like that, where the water they used to clean the new baby came from a trough where animals drank.
The lowly shepherds were the first to visit Jesus, not the wise men. Sometime before Jesus turned two, the three Kings arrived with a few earthly riches to offer the Messiah.
The picture painted isn’t one of a celebrated birth with gifts, glitz, and glam, like you’d expect for a baby that would change the world, but this is the story behind Christmas.
Hope in a Motor Coach
Some friends of ours hit hard times several years ago after losing two businesses. For Christmas this year, their children will receive a decked out Motor Coach. They’re planning for their family of four to live in this mobile home while they save up for a house.
Where other wives would be frustrated by their husband’s loss of income, this wife is thankful her family is together and healthy. The couple, now free from all of their creditors, is planning to live in a cash society. They don’t want their value getting twisted by what they have or what they don’t.
Getting It Together
Since I was a little girl sticking bows on my Julie Andrews inspired haircut, I’ve loved Christmas. I like to buy or make gifts, cookies, and cards for everyone, but this year I had to pull back for budget purposes. I couldn’t buy a gift for everyone on my list, cards will have to go out next year, and luckily my kids didn’t ask for too much. It’s been hard for me.
But my experiences with my thrift store friend, setting out the nativity set handcrafted by Nana, and getting to break bread with our Motor Coach family, have prepared my heart for the real meaning of Christmas. It’s a celebration of the value we can’t see, and if we need a reminder in the mirror of this value, I say throw on a tiara, shiny bow, or a bit of tinsel on your head. Why not?
‘Tis the Season!
May you all have peace this Christmas. If you aren’t at peace, you need help, and you’re thinking of taking your life, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. No shame.