You turn the calendar page from November to December and there you see it…a full schedule of parties, events, cookie swaps, and luncheons. You start to feel that nervous twitch, though excited about all the festivities that lie ahead.
You turn your attention to your shopping list, trying to recall what has already been tucked away and what still needs to be purchased. Trying to avoid that last minute dash out to the stores, fighting crowds and standing in endless lines, you make a mental checklist of each family member and friend to buy for. Your eyes are glazed over from scouring the internet for web specials. “Free shipping!” and “Enter this code at checkout!” flashes through your mind. You start to breathe heavily.
Don’t forget the extra groceries for all those holiday goodies, and make room in the schedule for the extra hours of cooking and baking. You don’t want to start in on your famous recipe two hours before the Christmas party, only to find an ingredient missing from your pantry!
Cleaning for company. Washing and pressing and ironing for that fancy company soiree. Writing Christmas cards. When are you going to wrap all the presents? Panic begins to set in…
As much as I’d like to say that this is all a bit of an exaggeration, I must confess that this has been my experience over the last two weeks. From Thanksgiving day all the way through to last night, my calender has been full to the brim with cleaning, baking, entertaining, shopping, parties, birthday celebrations, sending packages, and writing cards. Last night I went out with friends to a restaurant to celebrate my birthday…nine days after my birthday…because it was the very first night I had free to do so.
I love the Christmas season. I crave a quiet, reflective holiday experience, spent at home. Popcorn. Hot chocolate. Christmas carols. Twinkle lights. Cookies shaped like trees and snowmen and stars. Children. Snow.
But I’m a busy young mother with an early December birthday. I have church obligations, which I want to fulfill cheerfully. I host a small group. My husband has five work-related Christmas parties that I want to encourage him to participate in, accompanying him when I am able. Our homeschooling group has planned a cookie swap and as it is I spend most of the calendar year dodging field trips and special events, so I want to show up with a smile and a huge platter of homemade treats. I have four delightfully small children, and I want to make as much holiday “magic” for them as I possibly can, all the while instilling in them the true meaning of Christmas.
Sometimes simplicity is a deliberate choice that we make, to live our lives without clutter and clamor. Sometimes…simplicity must take the form of an attitude. Yes, I am busy. Yes, there are a lot of things to accomplish, a lot of places to go. I, however, will keep a quiet heart, full of joy and delight. I will see each task as one more way I can bless my family or a friend. I will chatter on endlessly with my children each day as we go about our tasks, reminding them of Why we celebrate and Who we worship.
I pray that God will help me to worship only Him this holiday season. Not the music, the lights, or the gifts. Not the sumptuous food or the company of friends.
May your homes overflow with joy these next few weeks, whether your holiday celebrations are large, boisterous and bustling or small, still and quiet, for our God can be ever-present in both.