Why have a Mary Christmas?

Martha is the pesky option on multiple choice tests that is meant to distract you from the correct answer.  It seems viable, but misses the mark ever so slightly.  Martha is a deceivingly good option and is, in many ways, the right choice, just not the BEST answer.

Martha’s approach isn’t wrong, but her priorities are off.  Her service isn’t bad, but Mary’s stillness is better.

Why is sitting and silence the better way?  Why is it important to try for a Mary Christmas in a Martha season?

I discovered an answer in a commonly practiced holiday activity – decorating the Christmas tree, which Tim and I did yesterday.

Our Christmas tree extravaganza involved mucking around the National Forest with a chainsaw, seven strands of colored lights (plus one white strand, because two trips to Lowe’s in an hour is quite enough), and evenly dispersing ornaments throughout our large, but decidedly Charlie Brown-esque, tree.

During the process, which was spread over a couple days due to scheduling conflicts and sickness, I was reminded why I let my mom and brother handle the lights.  Now that it’s just Tim and I, lights are a troublesome catch 22: I either forfeit control and let Tim do it, or do it myself and be displeased with the less than perfect results…

Beyond my OCD tendencies with the lights, putting up the Christmas tree is one of my favorite traditions.  I enjoy picking out the best Noble Fir, untangling the copious strands of lights (my job since I don’t string them), and hanging all our family ornaments.

My absolute favorite part of the Christmas tree experience is when the tree is all decorated and someone turns off the lights – nothing is glowing but the tree.  We stand back in silence, admiring the beautiful scene.

Red, blue, green, pink, and orange glow softly, glistening off metal and glass hidden in the fragrant boughs.  I inevitably sit for hours gazing at the tree, letting my eyes rest on each ornament, my sight fixed on one memory after another.

The work of setting up the tree sometimes distracts me from truly appreciating all of the beauty and memories that have been created and will be created.  It is only when I sit and gaze a while that I fully absorb what each ornament means to my heart and my history.

A decorated tree takes work and the work is good.  Enjoying the tree requires time – time to sit still and look, see and remember.

The bustling and busyness of a Martha Christmas can be fun and enjoyable, but it is only when we choose a Mary Christmas that we intentionally slow down and can fully rejoice in the gifts from God that are celebrated during this season.