Remember the days when just the thought of December was enough to make you jump out of your skin with excitement? If I squint really hard I can sort of remember them, crystalized like a frost covered windshield on a dark morning. There’s family, games, gifts, and snacks. There is time in my Grammy’s basement playing with my cousins. Church songs and itchy tulle dresses. The anticipation of choosing that one gift you are allowed to open on Christmas eve. The magic. It pains me to say this, because I really do enjoy watching this excitement in the eyes of my children, but the cost seems to be a detriment to my soul. In the midst of buying gifts, sending cards, moving around the elf, attending concerts and plays and all the extras, the season seems to be so bright and noisy. It leaves you saying, “What happened?” when you find yourself sitting in a pile of wrapping paper and tape balls. Feeling like even among all of this stuff, something is missing. And because of all of that, December is not my favorite.
Last year, a few days before December began, I bought what I hoped would be a remedy for December, Anne Voskamp’s book, “The Greatest Gift, Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas.” In such desperate need for inspiration, I bought both the adult version and the children’s version, with the intent to take the time each day to read the passages. To slow down and focus on the real reason we celebrate this time of year. Sadly, life got busy and I got stressed and behind and cut out the most important thing I could have been spending time on. It really is a bit embarrassing to admit.
Last night I had thought about this and frantically torn open boxes, marked books, that have yet to be unpacked, until I finally came upon it. I set it out next to the coffee pot, hoping the combination would bring new energy come morning. The opening passage was enough to soften my heart regarding the month looming before us. “Big and glossy and loud and fast — that’s how this bent-up world turns, But God, when He comes–He shows up in this fetal ball… And the heart that makes time and space for Him to come will be a glorious place. A place of sheer, radiant defiance in the face of a world careening mad and stressed.”
Turns out I have a pretty good idea why I am not December’s biggest fan. I am most definitely guilty of being the fast, mad and stressed version of the world during times when we are supposed to be glowing with peace and love. I felt the need to address this today, not solely because of my spiritual epiphany as that may not apply to all of us, but what we all can understand is the hustle and bustle and the stress that it produces. I am trying something new. I am on a new mission to slow down the holiday. Slow is not my jam. But I want to be the little kid version of myself and feel the excitement of December, so I am willing to give slow a shot.
To me it doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a sloth, I still plan to get done what needs to be done, but I am trying to let myself off the hook a little bit. To carve out some time to do some of the things I see in my “mommy sweet dreams,” but that get brushed off because of an errand that needs to be run. Another gift to quickly grab because we shamefully forgot someone. Money spent in the place of meaning. This year the overindulging I will be doing will consist of Christmas movie marathons and too much popcorn, all snuggled in with my people. It will time spend decorating a gingerbread village for fun, not because it is due as part of a school project. This year will be about making a difference in little ways more often. Doing small things with great love. It will be a first for a family cookie baking day, where I don’t mind the mess and am not in a rush to finish up because the day will have no other plans attached to it. It will be a year of online shopping late at night with hot cocoa, avoiding the stress of lines and disgruntled shoppers. I will not stress at the choices my children make for their holiday concert attire, instead I will study their tiny faces. This year I am not striving for holiday perfection or a do it all attitude, in fact I have already said no to an event I REALLY wanted to take the kids to because, in the long run, it would just create over tired kids and more stress.
This year I am striving for a heart and home that are “a place of sheer, radiant defiance in the face of a world careening mad and stressed.”
I am striving for peace.
Happy December, my friends.