Shiny hats, eruptive laughter and midnight kisses– it’s the common mental picture we envision about how we’ll spend the final hours ushering in the hope of a new year. Right?
For me, that day began in a rattan chair, sitting on a tropical seat cover, listening to Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire sing Christmas carols through Muzak. At my feet, an insulated cup of tea poured from the pot on my kitchen counter lies beside a shiny bag holding a corked bottle — a gift for our dentist.
Having my kids teeth cleaned on New Year’s Eve seemed like a good decision when I made the appointment.
“See you Thursday at nine o’clock . . . thank you . . . and Happy New Year to you too . . . bye, bye,” the receptionist says to a client on the phone in tandem with the lyrics of Rudolph — they used to laugh and call him names.
Poinsettias line the counter in red foil pots, twinkle lights glow from the base of the trunk of a large plant in the corner. The familiar tune of Deck the Halls follows the red nose reindeer. Fa, lala, lalaaa, sings one of the receptionists to the other with deep throated sarcasm.
Sometimes joy becomes like nails on a chalkboard when your heart isn’t ready for it.
The only other soul in the waiting room sits on a couch across the room, facing me. He lifts sleepy lids underneath his glasses when the front door jolts open, and cold air curls around my ankles with it. Fleece covered arms tighten around his chest as he dazes long at the stranger who interrupted his nap, now writing a check at the counter. He will bring His goodness and Light . . . it bellows through the speakers.
“Mrs. Miller, have you seen that?” I hear someone ask, startling me from a journaling trance. I haven’t heard my name spoken like that in weeks, maybe months.
“No, what is it?” I ask.
“The plus-size Barbie, have you seen that?” she repeats a sentence from their conversation, background mumbling for Christmas carols. “I guess they are telling little girls its okay to be fat.” Squeezing her eyes together in a curious squint, she wears a smile like the crumpled blue line on your child’s notebook paper, awaiting the right answer.
“Perhaps it’s an attempt by a toymaker to send a message, Imperfection is beautiful,” I reply without thinking about it too much.
“Well, that would be the more proper way to say it,” she says while rolling her chair closer to her keyboard.
I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in your dreams swoons over the new quietness as the visitor pulls the door closed behind him. The sucking sound of air from dental instruments and running water break the stillness. I wonder about the words of that chorus.
Startled by the sound of his name in the middle of a dream sequence, Joseph is interrupted by a chorus of words spoken by an angel that started the story of Christmas. Words that change his life and ours for eternity. (Matthew 1:20)
Sometimes the names we choose for ourselves – not enough, ugly, plus-size, unworthy, unlovable, incapable – ring more familiar than the name Jesus gives us.
And you get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You’ll be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected. (Isaiah 62)
In the beginning, when God created, he said, “It is good.” Not “It is okay,” or “It’ll do.” He sees all He creates and calls it good. He approves of who you are wholeheartedly, without reservation.
In the midst of your mundane, messy, miscalculated life He names you. Through the familiar chorus of Christmas carols filling up your waiting room; in the sound of your name being called by a stranger. Like a dream interrupted by laughter and midnight kisses, your life will be changed by Love calling for you.
He is with you always, even when you aren’t aware of it. And that is worth celebrating.
Happy New Year!!