by Danetta Kellar
The rain was falling like disappointment on my windshield as I wished for Christmas snow. Lights twinkled through the wet darkness, stubbornly declaring hope in the downpour.
I was daydreaming about wrapping gifts when my daughter, cozied up in the back seat of the car, began to wail.
“What is the matter?” I exclaimed, trying to keep my hands on the wheel.
I could not understand a word through her sobs and heaves.
Worried she was having some sort of sudden health emergency, I pulled over and climbed in the back with her. Her little face crumpled up as she finally calmed down enough to explain to me what was causing all this ruckus.
“I am naughty! I am on the naughty list! And now I won’t get any presents this Christmas!”
The sobs resumed, her little shoulders quaking.
She and her brothers had been fighting like cats and dogs for days and couldn’t seem to stop no matter what. The excitement of school ending, cousins coming to town, and gifts on Christmas morning had sent them over the edge of reason.
The windows began to fog up, creating a kind of private screen from the world outside. As they misted over my mind became clear.
I had had it with the naughty list, and I was outing it once and for all.
I put my arm around my daughter, the one who goes to church and acts in the Christmas play, reads the Nativity story with us every year, hangs ornaments on the Jesse tree as we recount the bigger story that brought the Messiah— yes, that child of mine— who also has come to believe one of our society’s biggest myths: The Naughty List.
I looked her square in the eye and explained to her that everyone is naughty, and every last person needs help to be good. And that is precisely what Christmas is all about.
On the very first Christmas, our holy and good God drew near to live among us as a baby, that one day He might give His life to make all our hearts perfectly and completely good.
Even Saint Nicholas knew this.
On the side of the road during a downpour, we debunked the Naughty List that day and changed Christmas in our home.
Now when we goof up, we ask forgiveness from each other and move on in grace. The annual Sibling Wars have not even begun this year. (Although we do have another week to go.) Perhaps with the pressure off, it is easier to rest in the good that we were given on the first Christmas so long ago, the good we never could have earned on our own.
Are you ready to kick the Naughty List to the curb? No one can be perfectly good. We need a Redeemer, and He came at Christmas.