Simply Christmas

HI! Long time no chat…or something.

Well, December is here. I don’t even know how but it is. I love the holidays! I love the smells and sights and really ALL THE THINGS. Like, for instance I have an unusual love for wrapping paper. I have a big box full of wrapping supplies. I showed my collection to a friend and she said I needed an intervention. Really I think she was just being dramatic. Everyone knows that having plenty of wrapping paper and not having to go purchase more (at full price, by the way) is not cool. I never buy wrapping paper at full price. Yes, I am one of those wackadoos that is in Walmart the day after Christmas preparing for next year. But the paper is pretty and cheap. Can I get an amen?!

I didn’t actually come on here after a super long departure to tell you about my wrapping paper love, but to talk about the holidays in general.

As Advent approached (which in case you didn’t know it technically starts Sunday December 3rd this year, but the calendar does this weird thing where there are 25 days on the Advent calendar but only 23 in Advent so do with that information what you will) (also in that last parenthesis I almost quoted the West Wing but didn’t so you are welcome or maybe I’m sorry. Whatever. You decide.)

Good grief, stay with the topic, Teri!

Advent. Holidays.

I know I am not the only one that feels like they’ve been put in an Instant Pot (I love my instant pot, by the way) and left on full pressure the entire holiday season. It can be so intense and you feel like it experienced you rather than you it. All through the year any time the thought of the holidays or especially Christmas came up I had two thoughts.

  1. We are slowing this train down this year.
  2. It’s Zack’s last Christmas at home before college. (cue the tears and feelings)

I don’t want to remember any more holidays seasons where I just remember a blur of things that I wanted perfect that ended up looking less like a Rockwell painting and more like a 3 year-old’s finger painting. I can’t keep doing the chaos. I just can not.

It was time to release the pressure in the pot and allow the lid to be opened.

The tree has less ornaments on it this year. Rather than decades of ornaments filling the space it is a picture of a family. A family of 4. From Baby’s First to present year the lives of my children are hung on the tree. From Bob the Builder to the Walking Dead to Drivers Permits and a Graduation Cap the things that are most important to them in that year are part of the story of who we are as a family. It’s not glamorous and you will never see it in a magazine but it’s perfect and simple.

All our decorating is simple this year. A few favorite items displayed but even the Rockwell Santa picture stayed tucked away. Why? Because I chose quality over quantity. Would the picture be pretty as it always is hung in the living room? You bet! But having it out never made it more Christmas, it was just added things.

I want less added things. The things we cherish most don’t live in a box anyway. So if we do less and we slow down then maybe we’ll have more of the sweetness of this season.

We didn’t buy the kids gifts this year. Nothing will be under the tree on Christmas morning and we are all completely content with that. Instead we are taking a family trip, just the four of us. Which that in itself is a gift to me from Jim as I’ve been begging for it for awhile. Our theory as we planned this trip was that none of us need anything except time with each other. The wrapping paper can wait until next year and I might not even buy any new rolls on the day after Christmas.

Even our Bible study this year is simple but beautiful. We are doing the She (and He) Reads Truth Advent study. Those sweet people put together some great books and resources and we’ll be happily going along without a stress of doing it right.

Can I just release us all and say there is no right? The cookies will taste fine if you allow the kids to help. The smallest gestures usually mean the most. The last thing I want this year is for this conversation to play out: “Wheres Mom?” “Oh, she’s off doing (fill in the blank with one of the many required festive but time consuming things)” “She would have liked to see this”. No, thanks! So maybe or maybe not you’ll get cards from us this year, but if not, just know I was too busy being with my people because Jesus wasn’t born so I could send Christmas cards.

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For Your Christmas

He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. God tapped humanity on its collective shoulder, “Pardon me,” he said, and eternity interrupted time, divinity interrupted carnality, and heaven interrupted the earth in the form of a baby. Christianity was born in one big heavenly interruption.-Max Lucado

Christmas is just a few days away now. The kids are out of school and anticipating all the festivities. Gatherings of all kinds are going on around the world this time of year. Everyone celebrates differently, some celebrate the Hallmark holiday produced by the Coca-Cola company while others celebrate the birth of a Savior, Immanuel, God With Us.

Yes, God is with us. Rest in us. Give us peace. Assure our weary hearts that while we may feel lost, lonely, or unsure you are right next to us just longing to be known. The holidays are hard for many. The ache of missing lost family members is brought to light during this time of year, but maybe that is the point: Jesus, the light of the world also brings peace and comfort. He experienced loss and suffering so extremely in his 33 years. He knows our sorrows and feels our pains. He mourns with us, but he also promises for better. Much like earth was not his home, it’s not ours either. Be patient and considerate to those grieving this season. Welcome them in and give them a warm place to rest their weary hearts. Be safe. Show the love of Jesus to the broken.

The innkeeper turned away not only a carpenter and his young wife but salvation. I am sure he was busy, overbooked, and really just over the whole census deal. So by the time evening rolled around, Joseph knocked that poor innkeeper was done. No room anywhere, not even his heart for his Savior. Do you have room for your Savior?

Last evening Noah, Jim, and I were watching the Santa Claus part 1 and 2 together. In the midst of Laura (the Mom) and Neil (the step dad) talking about how they stopped believing in Santa because he didn’t bring them the thing they most wanted, Noah chimes in “sounds like an awful lot of ungrateful people to me”. Our actions and reactions show our gratitude levels. The gratitude-o-meter is simple: what is the first thing you say after someone gives you something? What is the first thing you do after an amazing moment happens? Do you give thanks? We all have so much to be thankful for, even when we don’t realize it. Even when life seems unbearably hard we all have something that brings us even the smallest measure of joy. A child’s smile. You’re spouse’s laugh (I love when Jim laughs at his own jokes, it makes me happy). A bowl of spaghetti (because that’s Noah’s love language). A quick note of encouragement from a friend. Or maybe a simple random act of kindness. Kindness blooms joy in it’s wake. Like a dandelion seeds, kindness flows into the hearts receiving, joy erupts, and an opportunity for more spreading arises.

Personally I think any day, ever day is a good day to spread kindness but if you are not generally of the opinion that kindness is worth sharing on a regular basis then maybe you could consider the holidays to be the time to show some love (kindness). No shocker here but Jesus showed kindness daily; really he showed the ultimate kindness on the cross, but good news! You don’t have to do that too, He took that one off your to-do list. Go share some kindness!

Lets be Jesus to the world this holiday. Share His love. Offer His patience. Make room for Him at your table.

From my family to yours…. MERRY CHRISTMAS!