Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grace at the mall

I used to love the mall. When I was an adolescent is was my favorite place to hang out. And even as a wife and young Mom I loved it. I loved to stroll through the stores with little Jack naming colors and things and hearing him repeat them. When we thought he might have Asperger's I took him to the mall every week for two years to teach him to make eye contact. There is never a loss for human faces at the mall and he would look at each one, hold their gaze, and state his name and a shy "Good morning". It was part of his therapy. And it was part of my therapy, too. My I'm-a-new-Mom-and-I-desperately-need-human-contact therapy. I'm sure we looked crazy. He talking to strangers, and me by his side playing the role of swollen, pregnant cheerleader. As it turns out, he doesn't have Asperger's. His developmental delays are a thing of the past and now he is just a sweet, funny, well-loved ten year old. In fact, he is my most polite, quick-to-make-friends child in the bunch. But I digress.

Back to the mall. Somewhere between the therapy and adding child number two, I began to really loathe that place! Even on a rare shopping trip alone, it just didn't sit well with me. It seemed to showcase the most spoiled, materialistic, and rude among us. Or maybe that is just my experience around the holidays. Today was no different.

We decided to take a trip to see Santa. We are not opposed to the idea of Santa, but have chosen to not dwell on him. When we celebrate Christmas at home, all of the artwork, books, lessons, and carols are those that celebrate Jesus' birth. Of course they see Santa everywhere, so they have been influenced. And when they ask me about him I have always said, "Isn't it fun to pretend??" But whether they get the truth or not, they just continue to play along- all three- even the 10 year old. So I just nod and continue saying, "It sure is fun to pretend." And they continue to anticipate what Santa will bring. Lydie has begged to talk with Santa at the mall. I told her point blank he was just a man dressing up, but she insisted it would be fun. So today, December 23rd, 2 days before Christmas, I decide to go.

We stood in line 1 hour with the mobs to see Santa. Lydie was smiling from ear to ear and loved the whole experience. The boys had to use every ounce of self-control not to cry and pitch a fit. They learned to give of their time for the four year old who has different likes and wants and stand and take it like little men. And they did so very well. And we all laughed as I insisted that my snapshot with my camera was just fine, in order to save $22.95 for a 5x7. The "Santa helpers" "highly encourage" you to order at least the smallest package ($22.95). But I held my ground. Bah-humbug.

Several hours later we have just returned home with a happy little girl and two exhausted brothers. The younger brother declares that "Wii time" is the only thing that will make up for that awful trip. The older brother seems genuinely content to see his sister so happy. And I am here wondering how we all got so far, far away from the meaning of Christmas. As I scroll through the mental pictures I saw today of yelling, shoving, and buying in such excess it makes me very sad. And it makes me wonder why it seems so very difficult to keep our eyes and hearts on Jesus and his miraculous birth. I mean the fantasy of Santa is a fun one, but the beautiful reality of the birth, life, death, and purpose of Jesus Christ is amazing. Why isn't that enough?

Maybe I can look at it a different way and chalk this up to another daily experience that makes me marvel at the grace of God in saving sinners like us. Maybe I can use this experience to deepen my sense of worship that a perfect, holy God chose to send his Son to become human to secure my salvation. By giving me a vision of exactly what I don't want to be, our trip to the mall has indeed pointed me to Christ.

"How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?"
Proverbs 1:22

1 comment:

maryanne helms said...

You were probably in line with me friend, who also waited for an hour and a half. Said it was dreadful! So thankful we all got to enjoy SNOW!!!!