I had a kind of revelation this Christmas season.

I recently went to a caroling service at Redeemer in New York City. Tim Keller, an extraordinary mind and speaker, offered a perspective on Christmas that stuck with me in a way that no other view on Christmas has before.

The singing is wonderful at Christmastime. So are the lights. Gifts are nice too. And all of the joy that comes with togetherness.

But Christmas is rooted in the most humble and meager existence that a human can have.We see so many nativity scenes at Christmastime that are romanticized. The lighting is beautiful. Mary’s makeup is perfect.

But Christmas happened with a child born in the most raw and unglamorous conditions… literally with an animal feed trough for a bed. We like to romanticize it, but it wasn’t romantic at all. It was real and human and harsh.

I’ve spent a lot of this Christmas season thinking about how humble and simple that is. And trying to take pleasure in simple things. Trying to see how delightful those can be. Trying to be grateful for them. I have a lot of blessings in life, and so I am trying to relish in them more, rather than focus on what could be better. And seeing that the imperfection in humanity in its rawest form is powerful and beautiful even when it is hard.

I saw a beautiful, beautiful friend the other night, who I hadn’t seen in a while.

We went to one of our favorite places in New York, called Freeman’s and talked about Christmas and what it meant to us, and the role that family and friendship played in it.

We had dried chamomile flowers floating in our beverages. They made us smile.

We took lots of photos to remember the night.

Earlier that day I made hard apple cider doughnuts and crunched into the crispy skin and soft middle with my teeth. It is a recipe I’m working on for my next book… the book being why I haven’t been able to write much around here lately. Thanks for baring with me, friends.

This Christmas season I also became friends with a butcher, the old school kind, that makes sausage from scratch and is willing to sell me 6 pounds of fat to render in my own kitchen.

And I walked the lights of New York City and took in their joy.

 

I’ve realized that Christmas is hard for some people. It is joyous but it is also hard. For some people it is lonely. For others it is stressful. What I have liked about this season is learning that that is okay. Because Christmas came out of very hard, raw, unromantic circumstances. And through those hard times we can get closer to what Christmas really was, we can relish and enjoy the simplest things, define what family means to us, and truly see their beauty.

Merry Christmas, my friends. I am grateful for you.

 

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