Luke 10:40a – But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. (NIV)
Having company visit or drop in over Christmas is part of the holiday season for almost everyone. For most of us, part of Advent and Christmas preparations is to give the house a good cleaning, so that it looks good when family and friends happen to visit.
That's true in my house now, as it was when I was growing up. My mother wanted the whole house tidy and the kitchen spotless. For some reason, she was particularly concerned that the kitchen floor be clean, and stay clean throughout the Christmas season. That was easier said than done, with all the people and the food passing through the kitchen.
Woe betide anyone, even my father, who dared to make a mess in the kitchen, and heaven help the one who made a mess on my mother's good, clean kitchen floor.
Twenty years ago, I had just started a new job in Alberta. I didn't have enough seniority to take time to fly back to Toronto, where my mother was living then. She was alone, so our solution was for her to fly out to have Christmas with me and to cook Christmas dinner in my kitchen.
I scrubbed my apartment from end to end, and I made sure the white tiles on my kitchen floor were gleaming.
Christmas was a great success — right up until Christmas dinner. Then we both got an unexpected present. We had a little turkey and some side dishes, including a dish of ripe, red cranberry sauce. Mother had taken over my kitchen and was dishing out the cranberry sauce, when the entire contents of the can missed the serving dish and landed with a crimson splat, right on my good, clean kitchen floor.
I couldn't pass up the opportunity! "You made a mess, all over my good, clean kitchen floor," I said, trying to say it just as she used to. But I was chuckling. I was going to follow that up with what I had heard her say so many times: "I got down on my hands and my knees and scrubbed the good, clean kitchen floor!" But I didn't say it; I couldn't, because I was laughing too hard. So was she.
We cleaned up the spilled cranberries and had Christmas dinner, garnished with a good laugh. Most importantly, it put things back in perspective. What was important was not the floor, but the fact that we were together that year, when it had looked like we would both be alone.
Perspective is important this season. The real reason for the season is this: Jesus has come to earth to be our Saviour.
Prayer: Lord, in this season, help us remember to take it easy on the ones we love, and on ourselves, too. Enable us to focus on what is important: Your coming to earth in human form. Help us to let the nonessentials go, so our lives are free and uncluttered to gather "round the manger", for that is the only thing that truly matters. Amen.