One of my favorite memories was during my first year of seminary when we decorated a small Christmas tree. I was at my friend, David’s apartment. Both of us were engaged to our future wives, but this was our last Christmas as single people. David is my best friend from seminary. We met because we were the only two people who showed up to take the voluntary library tour during orientation (just to get a glimpse into our shared nerd tendencies). He found a Christmas tree on the side of the road and brought it to his apartment. We wanted to decorate it, but it dawned on us that we didn’t have any Christmas ornaments. This was something we have never had to think about before this moment.
Instead of buying Christmas ornaments, we went searching through his apartment to find something that could work as Christmas ornaments, and what we ended up with was a Christmas tree decorated completely with Bobbleheads. He had a lot of them. We had Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, some Falcons, Carolina Hurricanes (he is from Raleigh), and Detroit Tigers (from his roommate). We situated them all throughout the tree and it was beautiful.
I will always remember that Bobblehead tree. We are coming up on the Christmas season, which is always a season of expectations. (Expectation is actually one of the names of a Sunday in Advent!). What we have learned through psychology is that a lot of anger comes from unmet expectations, and to limit our anger, a great strategy is to adjust our expectations. The Christmas memories, and really any holiday memories I cherish the most are the ones where there was no expectation, like how to decorate a tree we found on the side of the road. One of the descriptions of our faith, that I feel particularly in this upcoming busy season, is to have faith like a child. I think that might have something to do with expectations, of ourselves, others, and God. What do you expect this year, and how can we open our eyes to still be surprised by God’s presence?