Friday, December 21, 2007

The Penguin Who Changed Christmas

When I was in Jr High, that is what we called Middle School back in the day, one of the required courses in the 7 grade was a semester of art. I anticipated this class with the hopes that by some miracle the art gene that maybe had lain dormant for all of my 12 years would suddenly make a glorious appearance. I hoped all my desired longings to be creative and artistic would finally come to the surface. One of our first projects was to use textured backgrounds for a drawing that we would create over the background. I did fine on the textured background, but the art teacher felt deep pangs of sympathy for all my inability to draw. She penciled in the outline of a horse on its rear legs and I merely painted in the horse. We got an A for our joint effort.

Ceramics, the next art form to be conquered was much more difficult than textured backgrounds. But I bravely decided to make a Christmas decoration. You see, my brother has the artistic gene. His projects and artwork were prominently displayed throughout our home. It was my turn to shine for I created a Christmas penguin. So I began the difficult task of creating this sculpture and ode to the penguin. Since texture had been my forte, I decided why not texture on the penguin. I went past a texture line though, only thinking that if a little was good, a lot would be marvelous. Once we created our piece, it then went to the kiln for firing and eventually it came back to us. Can you imagine my disappointment when my beautiful creation turned out like this?

My 12 year old eyes still saw a thing of beauty though and that night at dinner I proudly unveiled my beautiful Christmas creation. I innocently thought I would hear oohs and aahs, but all I heard were guffaws of laughter. Wheezing kind of laughter where sound has ceased. Just being 12 years old with emerging hormones and with the huge self esteem issues that we all go through, the reception of my art overwhelmed me. My beautiful penguin was being called a buzzard. Honestly, it does look like a buzzard, but it had been created a penguin. I left my place at the table and put the penguin the farthest back shelve in our hall closet. I never wanted to see that ugly thing again or be reminded that I was a complete and total failure when it came to art. Through the rest of jr high and high school years the penguin would be brought out of the closet and laughed at, a memory for me I wanted no part of.
Then one Christmas while I was in college, I came home to see the penguin on display in our den with red and green yarn tied around its neck. I ignored it and continued to do so as the Christmas seasons of our life rolled on. Time has a funny way of changing things. It began a tradition in our family that it wasn't officially decorating time at Christmas until the Christmas Buzzard made its appearance.
We grew up, moved away, got married but every year when we all gathered at my parent's home, there was the buzzard. Now a much loved decoration. When my parents moved to Georgetown, Texas for several years, my mother was distraught. It was Christmas and she couldn't find the buzzard. I believe their second Christmas there, she finally found it. As we all gathered around for dinner, my mom did a proud unveiling of the buzzard and this time it was welcomed with all the oohs and aahs and joy that I had anticipated when I was 12 years old.
Luke 2:6 says, "while they were there, the time came for her to give birth." God had prepared everything. He was in every detail. He sent angels to announce the birth of His Son. God made sure that Simeon was at the Temple and that Anna, His praying servant, knew of His Son's birth. What may have looked like poor planning to the inn keeper was God in control of even this humble birthplace. What looked to some as a laughable situation, a baby born in a stable to poor parents from Nazareth, was a thing of beauty and impact for the whole world. Then it was time, for Mary to deliver and give birth at the right moment in time with every detail in place.
And as the years have gone by this birth of Jesus we celebrated as children is more to me than a once a year story. We were so 'smart', Jesus is God's Son and He came to save us, but there weren't any gifts for us, so we thought from this. All the while knowing it was Santa and our parents that gave us gifts. But one year Jesus became more than a piece in a Nativity set for me, He became my all in all. I realized everything good and perfect gift came from Him. That there was not anything in me that could pay the price of being loved and accepted by God. It was receiving God's gift as my Savior and Lord. No more a lovely story read from the Bible or sang in our children's Christmas programs to me, it is the Life of God, His Word, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the Great I AM.
Now I am not saying my Christmas penguin is anything compared to our Lord Jesus Christ. But what I am saying is this, now that the buzzard resides in our home and is out on display year round, it has become a good reminder for me. Not to look at things on the immediate but see that God has a plan and timing for every detail in our lives. Ecclesiastes says He has made everything beautiful in His time. There are situations and circumstances that don't look beautiful right now, but just as our buzzard has become beautiful in time, our understanding of what God is doing will become beautiful and a wonder.
What joy! Emmanuel with us! Celebrate Jesus!


Dana said...

That was a wonderful post Nancy! Man you made me cry...

Profbaugh said...

Oh Nancy, I knew there was a reason I liked reading your blog. You see, I too, share your lack of artistic ability--discovered of course in Jr. High (just where did they get this "middle school" thing anyway).

Having said all that, I just loved this post, like Dana you had me at the end. Thanks for a wonderful monablog.

P.S. I think your penguin is far more attractive (and a better tradition) than Scary Angel.


Nancy Mon said...

Awesome, Nancy. That was really touching. What a cute little Christmas penguin!

Amanda, when I hit publish last night, it never published your comment. So I copied it in.

Thanks Dana and Cheryl for your comments. I am so glad you all like my Christmas penguin.

Lisa Pierre said...

Does Dana cry a lot? jk
You and I are very creative and artistic. We just may not be able to sell everything we create and design. But we know that it's ours. Nobody takes that away from us. I would not have laughed. And you should always display it like you do.

Dana said...

Lisa hurt my feelings. I am going to go cry now... :)

I seem to cry when I read Nancy's blog.

I also laugh hysterically.

Which ends up with crying. But they are tears of joy...