It’s been one week since Christmas and it’s still New Year’s Day. In my longing, constant working for this unattainable earthly perfection, it’s easy to find imperfection even in Christmas things and New Year things. Yes, joy is easily stolen by things. But take heart, joy remains. For moments cannot be stolen. Moments of joy, moments of peace, moments of love, moments of grace. Moments that matter.
This remote control car. He loved it. It was a favorite on Christmas Day. Before we left, I put it in the box and taped it up all safe so no harm would come between there and home. But somewhere along the way, my husband thought the same and took the antennae off the remote for safe keeping. It got misplaced between there and here, and now just a week old, the car won’t work well at all unless we can find this teeny tiny antennae. Nowhere to be found. Not in boxes, not in bags, not on the floor. The missing antennae momentarily stole my joy. I nagged, irritated with my husband for taking the antennae off, mistakenly thinking he was directly responsible for losing it. “That was his favorite! What a waste! I hate when stuff like this happens!” I exclaimed.
It’s just a little remote control car, I tell myself. It’ll show up. If not, I can call and see if they have replacement parts.
And this Mickey Mouse ornament. Little Mickey’s body broke right off his foot when I picked it up to put it back in the box this morning. It crumbled in my hands. There was no stopping it. Box read $19.95. This magical ornament played music, had lights. Now worth nothing. Gluing that big body on a tiny foot would prove pointless and fall right over. Only worthy of throwing straight in the garbage.
It’s just an ornament, I tell myself. Stop thinking about it and just throw it away. By next year, you’ll forget you even had it.
And the Meier’s sparkling apple juice? We let our 10-year-old plan New Year’s Eve. This was the special drink he had chosen for us, and we forgot only to find it in the back of the fridge this morning. Idealistic thoughts run through my mind….we could have, should have cheered in the new year with that sparkling juice, memories were for the making.
It’s just juice, I tell myself. Clearly, we didn’t even miss it. We’ll drink it another time and it’ll be just as fun.
He got the tank for Christmas, and the fish just moved into their new home yesterday. This morning, already one missing. They found it dead by the filter. Daddy got it out. Little yellow fish, dead in a sandwich bag for one final viewing. Didn’t even last one day, I don’t even want to look at that dead fish, this is daddy’s job!
It’s just a fish, I tell myself. That’s the way it goes. He’ll learn about life and death, and then he’ll get a new fish.
All this in just an hour or two.
The gifts, the decorations, the food and drink, the whole array of activities we use to entertain at Christmas, to ring in the New Year sometimes block, even mask the real joy we seek. These things can steal our joy with their promises of a better life, a more fulfilling life. But things don’t bring joy. They may bring temporary joy, but not lasting joy.
It is moments spent with those around us that matter most, that bring real, long-lasting joy.
All those frustrations with things can be reframed as moments to be treasured with people…
Watching our son play with that remote control car, cousin chasing and laughing behind him in the kitchen.
Little ones waiting in anticipation to see what that ornament would do, a button pushed, Mickey sang and they smiled, memories flooded in of our Disney vacation together.
Our son poured over his choices on the top shelf. Which sparkling juice to choose? Apple or pear, cranberry or raspberry? He chose apple, and mama liked the way he so thoughtfully made that decision.
That same son, the way he peered into his tank and didn’t think twice about that dead fish. It was only mama who was grossed out, who cared it died, who was anxious it might happen again, but so glad he could move beyond.
And today, joy was found in our little baby. A snotty, crusted nosed baby with a little food dried on top for color.
Yes, my husband and I delighted as our baby toddled around. Sister and brother put her hat on inside, and neither of us were in a hurry to take it off.
She toddled around the corner right over to her favorite place…the spice rack. Salt and ginger, black pepper. She examined, she shook, she dropped all over the floor.
And there was joy. Joy in that moment.
Yes, the joy of Christmas, the hope and promise of a new year can be stolen right out of our hands if we get stuck worrying about getting and keeping things perfect. Doing everything perfectly.
Yes, the joy, the hope, the promises of things better lie in moments. Moments noticed. Moments delighted in. Moments cherished.
This year, join me as I strive to simplify and focus on moments that matter. Moments with ones loved, ones dear, ones completely unknown but just as dear.
For I still need to learn it is NOT about keeping things just so, not about doing “it” right, not about getting “it” all perfect.
This year, I step into the freedom of grace. The joy of moments with others. Never predictable, very rarely perfect, but always beautiful.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4