I don't exactly know what it was, but it had manifested itself in a lack of enthusiasm. For the first time, maybe ever, I wasn't excited about Christmas.

Typically, Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. From the lights to the carols to the shopping (I'm usually done in November), I love it all. Christmas cookies and movies also top the list of my favorite things.

But today, I realized that I wasn't excited for Christmas at all.

Last year, we studied Advent Conspiracy in our Sunday School class. Between that study and our recent trip to Africa, the consumerism of the season is enough to make me nauseous (or maybe that's the malaria preventative medication). At any rate, I've recently witnessed children who share everything and express their thankfulness even for a half-drank bottle of water. I've seen children with bloated bellies who would be happy with a bowl of rice. Coming home to children who "need" the latest topsy-bopsy doll (seriously out of the loop on the children's toys...) has left me kind of jaded.

Another element to my depression would have to be the fact that my son will absolutely not be home for Christmas. Our agency had projected his homecoming date in October, November and then December. I kept telling them that the date didn't matter, I just wanted him home by Christmas. Now, two weeks before Christmas, he still has yet to receive a court date for the finalization for his adoption, so there's no possibility he'll make it home before the 25th.

Also, guess how many Christmas goodies can be consumed by someone who cannot digest gluten (flour) or dairy. Yeah. Like, big fat none. I even attempted a few small chocolates, but they had just enough milk to ruin my day. Seriously, not fun...

Tomorrow we're having a Christmas open house for church. All 400+ members of our church are invited to parade through our homes to see our Christmas decorations and eat some seasonal goodies.

But I don't wanna.

I didn't even really want to decorate our Christmas tree tonight. It has been set up, but bare for the past two weeks - waiting for just ONE day when Chance and I had enough downtime to "make a lasting memory" and hang lights on a plastic tree.

So today, because I had to, I went through the motions. I turned on the Christmas music, did some cooking and hung ornaments on the tree.

Eventually, I got down the antique window that hangs near our dining table. The plan was to use a white dry-erase marker to write the story of Luke 2 on the window panes. About halfway through (around the time my fingers began to cramp) I realized the importance of what I was writing.

I've heard, read, and even memorized these verses, but I'd forgotten their importance. I've sung carols about the birth of a King, but I'd not actually worshipped Him with my mouth. I had become wrapped up in the traditions of Christmas and lost my joy in the meantime.

Hear me though, I'm still extremely sad that we're spending another Christmas childless, but tonight has reminded me that the child that matters most, was born thousands of years ago (Luke 2:7).

The lights that are important during this season do not actually hang on my tree, but were demonstrated in the radiance of the glory of the Lord that shone around the angels and the shepherds (Luke 2:9).

The news of N.'s court date will be amazing, but not even comparable to the good news of Christ's birth (Luke 2:10).

Knowing Christ and remembering His humbling beginnings should bring me joy. Happiness is conditional - based on current circumstances - but joy is based on a relationship - a relationship with a perfect man who once lay in a manger because His majesty was not recognized.

I've found my joy.

And it's in Christ. It's in a baby that is celebrated at this time of year - not because He remained a baby, but because was the key to a relationship with our Creator.

I pray, dear friends, that you might also find your joy.

It's Christmastime in the City...

A post of photos (Africa, Part 5)