I have on my desktop screen a beautiful picture of the Nüremburg Christkindlesmarkt. It was taken from a window several stories above the marketplace and on an overcast, icy day. The rooftops of the little booths are powdered with snow. The gloom of twilight is descending in a shimmery deep-blue haze, but the bright lights in all the vendor tents are like the diamonds on the lapis of a Faberge’ egg. The glow that shines on the church spires and from apartment windows and business store fronts make a halo around the scene. It looks cold, freezy-chilly-frosty cold, but I want to be there once again, strolling with the other shoppers, filling my basket with handmade ornaments and packages of fragrant Lebkuchen and chocolates and candles for the big day.
It’s all fluff. We know it is. Everyone is drinking Gluhwein or hot chocolate, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the craftsmanship at certain stops along the way, but it’s all Christmas fluff. The children always want the silliest, the most ill-fitting or likely-to-be-broken-before-we-get-home items, but we wouldn’t miss this.
Where’s the joy? It’s fluffy. It isn’t Christmas … Is it?
Perhaps there is something about the very fluffiness of Christmas that speaks to our hearts of something very real and very important. We hear those good sermons about how poor Mary and Joseph were, how lowly Jesus’ birthplace. True, being born in a stable is unusual and unfortunate as we see it, but for all we know, Joseph might have been a man of means; probably the village carpenter made fairly good money. Perhaps he was well off! There just wasn’t any room in the inn!
Still, an inauspicious beginning for the Savior of the world, except for the angels filling the skies, singing the glories of the Father! And the star that turned on to announce the day. And the Magi, traveling at great expense to find Him and worship Him. And the shepherds! Lowly again, certainly … but when a company of men leave their livelihood to find and pay homage to a baby, lying in a hay manger, then depart, astonished and full of all they saw and heard …. Well, let’s say this. God is the greatest storyteller, ever. First He makes the story come true, then He tells it. He knew what we would make of it … and even plastic nativity figures retell the account world-over.
Back to Nüremburg. Do all these vendors and trinkets cheapen that night, this season? Not to mention the trees in our homes and the wreaths on our doors and the candles on our tables and even the fluffy gifts in the sparkly paper, waiting to be unwrapped!
This is what I think. If I rejoice in my Savior and my salvation every day that I live, my celebration can be Advent chains made from sheets of red and green construction paper (and it has been,) or sugar cookies for a school party, or fancy soaps to a nursing home; it can be reindeers, snowmen, tinsel, and a star on top, because this is a party, and for the pure in heart, it’s hard to make this one not-holy. There is even an enormous Christmas tree in mostly Arab Nazareth. This party is started! None of this is the fullness of joy, but we have that already.
Even before we did, Christmas warmed our hearts. This is the fluff that expresses that fullness, even the over-the-top spectacle of that otherwise quiet night. I really like it.