Today I have 950 things to do, so instead of doing them, I turned on some soft Christmas music, threw all three crazies in their beds, grabbed coffee and my computer, and settled in on the couch with my coziest blanket to write while watching the enormous swirling snowflakes dance outside the window. Let's talk about Christmas time shall we? What does your to-do list look like fourteen days before Christmas?
Finish Christmas shopping (duh)
Go to the post office to ship to out of town family
Stuff and address and stamp Christmas cards
Remember to actually mail Christmas cards
Shop for and fill a shoe box
Host a party Sunday
Plan/cook for party hosting Sunday
Buy stocking stuffers for the girls
Make homemade gifts for extended family Christmas Eve party
Make gingerbread men and decorate with Addison and Lily
Bake, make or buy gifts for friends/co-workers
Catch up on all the days we've accidentally missed on the advent calendar
Make photo calendars on Shutterfly
Buy cookies and cookie decorations to take to Toddler Time
Go to rehearsal for kid's program at church
Find appropriate clothes to go under their costumes...because we don't own anything white!
That's my list...and I'm in the middle of moving for the 8th time in five months. While my 'meth house' sits cold and empty, a sad sight of what we dreamed and poured into, but wasn't meant to be.
I'm behind on thank you cards, my kid has pink eye (I think), my back is out, and Brad works late three nights this week. Whether your life looks more or less crazy than that...the point is, December has a way of taking over and over shadowing the meaning of Christmas. Whether you're a Christian and desperately trying to keep your gaze on Jesus, come to earth as a baby in a manger to walk among us...Emmanuel, God with us...to ultimately save us. Or if you have different beliefs, religious or not, and you just want to focus on the giving, the joy and love and laughter of the season...I'm willing to bet that for every single one of us, regardless of our beliefs, something's got to give.
We can't go on like this! Frantic, frazzled, and ultimately fruitless. Because if we are running in the rat race that society and media and marketing tells us to every December, how can we see the important things? When I'm yelling at my kids to get in the car quickly, rushing through traffic, irritable and stressed, trying to get one last thing done, just one more thing...will I notice the woman and her daughter standing on the corner without coats, hoping and praying and relying on the kindness of strangers? Will I have time to get them hot chocolates? Will I have time or care enough to speak kind words to the cashier who's working long hours and putting up with overly stressed, rude patrons all day? What about time when I get home and my little ones want hot cocoa with marshmallows and popcorn, and snuggle time with mom while watching Charlie Brown...will I be too busy getting my list done?
And my own soul...what if my soul wants--desperately needs--slow? Will I respect myself and my needy soul, that needs time to focus and refocus each day on Christ? Or will I refuse and allow guilt to win...guilt that there's too much to do and I shouldn't stop but keep running, striving, doing?
(That's what my guilt tells me: that stopping and resting is lazy; that I should just push on and keep going and going and going; do more and finish that to-do list at any cost!)
That to-do list? It's important stuff, but this year? This year, I'm having grace with myself. And I'm cutting things off of the impossible list. Because I'd rather achieve less this December and produce more fruit...fruit like love and joy and kindness. I'd rather leave room in the margin for things God unexpectedly puts in my path, so that I can say "Yes!", not, "Sorry, love to, but I'm busy!"
My friends will still be my friends and know that they are loved by me even if I don't show up on the door step with homemade gifts this year. I can buy pre-made cookies to decorate with my kids. I can delegate: Brad can wrap gifts and I can let my perfectionism take a hike. He can help me address Christmas cards and I won't worry about the illegible handwriting (if you don't get a card from us, now you'll know why: the postman couldn't read the address!) And as much as I love baking, I can always count on trusty old Costco to take care of festive food for my party, lest I run out of time.
The girl's advent calendar is lame, so that can be retired and we can just watch more Charlie Brown (hey, it explains the meaning of Christmas rather well, don't you think?!) and sing Christmas carols together, because really, that's what they love anyway:)
So that's what I'm cutting out of my insane list. And maybe more, after all, I have a house to start packing! What about you? Will you stick to the self-imposed list and let guilt bind you to it at any cost? Or will you sloooooowww down and give your soul a break? I challenge you to start cutting away. Prioritize. Hey, if I don't get a card from you in the mail, I won't be offended;)
Have a wonderful next two weeks. Sip hot cocoa. Splash some peppermint schnapps in there. Cozy up with a blanket and stare at the twinkly lights on your tree. Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Read the Christmas story slowly. Read extra books to your kids. Dare yourself to focus on Advent...the anticipated coming of the Savior of the world. Because that's it...that's all that matters, really.