You know you’ve missed the point of this season when “believe in the magic of christmas” just becomes one more thing to add to the “to-do” list. We self-impose these lofty expectations, grand-standing gestures and traditions wrapped in bows of perfection. It exhausts more than it elevates.
It took me longer this season to make the mental switch to Holiday Cheer. Lord knows, it’s not the long lines at the Americana, the Christmas music that makes its debut earlier each year or the mad-dash to decorate the house in the two hours you have between kid’s choir performances and last minute shopping setting the right mood.
You know what finally did it for me? It was sitting down with my youngest yesterday to watch a Christmas movie. I caught my breath for the first time this season and looked around. The tree was up, half the lights weren’t working and the ornaments were haphazardly placed low on the tree only as far as small arms could reach. The Christmas books we wrap and put under the tree to open each December night had been carefully wrapped but lay unopened and unread under the tree. I have been so caught up in work and deadlines, my children had moved ahead with Christmas preparations without me.
One year ago, the guilt of that would’ve immobilized me. This year, I sat with my guilt for second and then actively set it aside to make room for gratitude. I am grateful our traditions have been strong enough to direct my kids in continuing to uphold them without my leadership. I am grateful this season found them working together to decorate their rooms with strands of lights and ornaments so that they can feel the excitement of building their own traditions. In the midst of all their normal sibling warfare and our typically scheduled chaos, I took one beat to recognize the importance of this season and its magical healing ability. It was such a mundane thing, sitting on the sofa with my 8-year-old, but oh my aching heart, it was so powerful. It slowed everything for a brief second and that made all the difference.
So, I propose new expectations. Do just one thing this Christmas whether it’s throwing lights up on the house or laying on the floor just under the Christmas tree listening to Silent Night. Give yourself permission to be still.
Christmas is the day that holds all time together. – Alexander Smith