When Christmas Crashes Down

When Christmas Crashes Down

We didn’t know how crooked the trunk was when we cut it down. The uneven ground, half mounded up around it’s base, the way it’s lower limbs dusted the surface of the earth, and the rows and rows of trees surrounding it, all helped to make the thing appear straight.

It’s not the first time we’ve been deceived by appearances.

We brought it home, righted that evergreen in it’s base and for days it stood proud and lovely.

Until it didn’t.


Advent does this to me year after year and I’m never ready for the crashing that comes in the middle of the frantic journey to Christmas.

Christmas can feel like it’s falling down as the pieces of a dream season shatter, scattering from one edge to the other.

The days might looked more like struggle than celebration. More like kids fighting, and rooms perpetually messy. More like melting snow pooling in brown puddles by the door and schoolwork abandoned mid-page for the distraction of snow falling on the other side of the glass.

It can look more like dinners made but not eaten, fights started and pages torn. Sometimes, it’s days of wrestling matches ending in tears and baths gone too long, and bed times extending beyond all measure of patience.

It’s cookies for neighbors, still unmade, and Christmas cards pilling up, without stamps.

Our joy can suffocated at the bottom of the laundry chute, the one that belches dirty clothes day after day–after day.

It may look like slipping down the driveway, or forgetting to return overdue library items–for days. It’s fines mounting and running out of ketchup and soy sauce and eggs when you need them the most.


Advent is never what I imagine, because my imagination is never realistic.

I wonder what Mary imagined, bulging with a God-baby that had no earthly Father.

I wonder how many years I will stockpile expectations only to be jarred by the reality that Advent is simply not an easy season–and maybe that’s okay.

Maybe Advent is meant to teach us about expectations and clinging to hope in the dark, long hours of uncertainty.


Christ comes to us in the middle of our mess.

The tree, trimmed with glass and sparkle, tips over under the weight of its adorning. The crashing of all of that shine reminds me of what matters most, and where my treasure is.

We can decorate this season to the hilt, we can party and carrol our way right up the edge of the manger–what we find there is glory in disguise.

We find a plain baby.

We find an infant king without clothes or crown.

Christ comes lowly. He comes humble and calls us to the same.

Take off your pretenses and airs. unstrap the masks from your face, from your heart–let Him in. Prepare Him room.

He longs to live in us.


We pick our way through the room, collecting shards and wires, hooks lay mangled, and glitter litters the floor. Christmas comes crashing down while we slept and nobody hears a thing–

Christ slips in, in the dark of our wrestling moments, His coming opens our eyes, our hearts. None of these things matter. Not the laundry or the library books, not the cards or the crooked tree, not really.

We get the bent tree back up, stuffing it in the corner, leaning far back for support. We suck up the shards and pick up the metal, the brown bag of shrapnel glimmers in the light. The broken is beautiful still.

Christmas crashes in to our already busy lives. It’s the very best kind of interruption.

It is absolutely divine.

“The mysterious, invisible authority of the divine child over human hearts is more solidly grounded then the visible and resplendent power of earthly rulers. Ultimately all authority on earth must serve only the authority of Jesus Christ over humankind.”  (Bonhoeffer)

Counting on, beyond 1000 Gifts

learning to be open

hearing from God

prophesies, old and new

desperate clinging to faith, in the unrelenting face of fear

wrestling prayers

friends who love with abandon

a husband, MY husband

children’s excitement growing

the generosity of our families

how the broken can be beautiful (grace)


  1. Jody Ohlsen Collins

    Kris, there is so much of this that made me smile wide while reading. I’m very sorry about your Christmas tree, but I’m hearing the same message in other corners (at least my own). My post last week was about just letting it all go……….to embrace what really matters.
    You are a great listener–I know it makes Jesus happy. And thank you for sharing what He shows you with US.

  2. Amy Hunt

    How lovely how He made beauty out of this . . . and how He makes beauty out of us. The unexpected and the crashing, oh yes how I know this. I think it’s a necessary messy that’s required for us to bend low to notice kind of like you have. The broken and beautiful grace, yes. Cheers to this. {hugs}

  3. Oh, sweet sister – it’s never what I imagine here…. or it’s become what I expect. Three years in a row of sick littles and now dh has joined the crowd. Three years of no baking because who wants to share that ‘blessing’? The first two years, I kept writing, kept pushing, sent cards. This year, I am not writing, no cards, no baking. I’m sitting – praying. Realizing, this may be as close as I get to what Mary experienced and I’ll take it. There are blessings – even in the broken glass on the ground or the long nights of holding others up while everything in them feels broken.

    Your words bless me – as your friendship has.

    His Word heals me – and makes room for the manger – it will arrive, whether it’s the world’s perfection or not

  4. Kris, this post is beautiful and I identify with your writing so much. Our family faces many challenges with a child who has special needs. It has stretched us mentally, emotionally, financially, and spiritually. In the midst of a very difficult time, the Lord laid the following idea on our hearts this Advent:

    What if this year, instead of focusing on filling the base of our tree with presents and paper, ribbons and bows, we filled its branches with prayers? What if, like Mary, we gave our hearts to God this Advent Season to magnify His greatness? What fruit would our tree bear?

    So this Advent, as we prepared for the coming of Christ, we created our first Advent Tree – a tree we hoped to fill with prayers from others for others that we would then offer to Jesus on Christmas Night.

    When we started the project, we had no idea what God had in store. It has blessed us beyond measure. Reading, holding, praying for, sharing with our children the dozens upon dozens of prayers we received has changed us. These precious gifts brought us closer to each other, to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the Lord. We are eager to lift these precious gifts of prayer to Him on Christmas Night. We are so thankful.

    God bless you, Kris. You have such a gift for writing. I’m blessed to know you through your blog. Merry Christmas!

  5. “Christ comes to us in the middle of our mess.” I’ve been a mess, still am, and am celebrating a messy Christmas. Thankful to know He’s in the middle of it all. Thank you my friend! Merry Christmas!


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