narcissistic ornamentFor years, one of our family’s Christmas traditions consisted of our own version of Where’s Waldo. Only my husband and his mother played. The object of their hide and seek was not a person but an ornament Bob had made as a Cub Scout. Proponents of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle would be impressed at the creativity displayed in his recycled Styrofoam ball, toothpicks and flashbulbs topped off with red and gold glitter. (For readers younger than 30, before the digitization of photography, cameras used flashbulbs when natural light was limited.)

I give my mother-in-law credit for hanging on to the ornament all these years. Though, I too have a box of ornaments my children made before they honed their fine motor skills and acquired some design sense. Every mother knows it’s the thought, not the beauty, that counts.

On the scale of ugly ornaments this one is a 10. But even mother love has its limits. While the ornament made it to the tree every year, his mother’s traditional placement for it was on the back side of the tree—out of sight. And there it stayed until we paid a visit. At which time Bob scoured the tree for his childish creation and placed it prominently in the front of the tree. Mission accomplished. Tradition continued.

The real Christmas story is so much more than a tradition. It is the ultimate love story, the ultimate humiliation. The Holy One assumed humanity; the Beautiful One became the ugly, the despised. Nothing about him was attractive; “nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). But out of his humiliation comes beauty—the beauty of redemption. We, the ugly, are restored in our Maker’s eyes because his Son took on our homeliness, our filth. No longer relegated to the back of the tree, we are redeemed through Jesus and God delights in us. That’s something to celebrate every day.

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