There is something about that final step in the holidays: the cleanup. I was reminded of one Christmas growing up, when my father, who was always eager to throw the wrapping paper into our fireplace, accidentally tossed out a pair of pearl earrings they had given my sister.
It took about two days to realize that the earrings were missing, and so they began sifting through the ash of our fireplace looking and hoping in vain that they might be able to recover the earrings. They never could find the earrings in the midst of all the soot and grime. To this day, there remains an uneasiness within our house that our haste to cleanup from the holidays may mean that we toss out an important gift.
With all of the holiday cheer, best wishes and merry Christmas’s we sung before December 25th, it is understandable that there would be a natural “holiday let-down” come the 26th. Work beckons us back; family responsibilities begin again. However, if we are not careful, like that earring, we can easily discard the gift of Christmas as we try to reorganize our lives for the New Year.
The challenge for us is to find a way to incorporate the magic of Christmas on a cold and lonely day in March or on a busy day in August. Since we claim to worship a living and active God who breaks into our lives now just as he did in the Bethlehem manger, we should be cautious not to put the holidays behind us, but rather to be taking the warmth, generosity and cheer of Christmas into our ordinary experiences.
Like the earrings buried deep among the ashes of discarded wrapping paper, how have we, in our haste to move forward, failed to be attune to the ways in which God’s gift of Jesus Christ has and will continue to transform our lives?