The first coming means 'fear not'

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

You’ve shopped and decorated and wrapped and cleaned and cooked and redecorated and written and shipped.
In between, you’ve attended six concerts from preschool choruses to a symphony orchestra to a traveling Broadway company, drunk 67 cups of cocoa, broken two fingernails and wondered why Christmas has to be so hard.
In the middle of it all, you’ve cried over the predictable endings of 23 Christmas movies, cried over those you miss from your childhood, failed to notice that your minivan is 6,000 miles overdue for an oil change, repainted the plywood Santa and sworn you’d never ask your sister-in-law for help on anything ever again.
You started planning your giving with last year’s after-Christmas sales, and you wonder if your husband has started thinking about his shopping yet.
You’ve baked 16 dozen cookies, stuffed and addressed 281 Christmas cards, written 43 thank-you notes (and can look forward to doing more), ordered flowers and chaperoned three parties.
You’ve dusted, mopped, laundered, loaded and emptied the dishwasher too many times to count, had to beg every time for someone to take out the garbage and fallen asleep during most of those aforementioned movies from sheer exhaustion.
You’ve pleaded with the kids to clean their rooms and your husband to clean the yard. You’ve run out and bought a new vacuum cleaner and a tube of lipstick 45 minutes before company was due, burnt cakes twice and had to listen to 13 voicemails because you repeatedly couldn’t find your phone before Elvis started the second verse of your “Blue Christmas” ringtone, which you didn’t realize would be so irritating until you’d heard it 41 times in one day.
You’re exhausted, you’re afraid something won’t be perfect, and you’re maybe just a tiny smidgen resentful toward those who don’t take it all as seriously as you do.
You and Martha Stewart weren’t around to choreograph the birth of the Savior, so of course it was a social disaster. No decorations except the angels, the place was filthy and the wise men probably didn’t get there with the presents until much later, following that star and only stopping to ask for directions when they were almost there.
But it happened, just as prophesied, and the world has never been the same.
The disaster of letting red and green and gold and silver and cinnamon and chocolate and wrappings and ribbons and cards and calls and hors d’oeuvres and orders get in the way of celebrating that change would be far worse than any dry turkey, burned-out lights or even the dog’s throwing up on your father-in-law’s shoes.
So breathe.
And, as the angel who brought those good tidings of great joy told the shepherds, “Fear not.”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at

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