If I close my eyes right now I can see the twinkle and beauty of Christmas in my imagination even though my surroundings aren’t quite as festive as I’d like at the moment. If I was at work there would be a poinsettia on the counter behind me along with a beautiful angel donated by someone who wanted to spread holiday cheer. I could step out of my office and head down the hall to find plenty of “Christmas” in the church sanctuary, along with a stained glass window of Jesus that would take your breath away. There’s a tree that nearly reaches the tall ceiling, and it is filled with ornaments that remind us of why we celebrate this holiday in the first place. This space filled with pews and holly feels magical and holy.
Christmas is a time of wandering imaginations, shepherds, wise men, and dreams of figgy pudding.
It’s also a time for playing Christmas music and humming along every chance you get while eating way more Christmas cookies than you should. But in spite of the extra poundage sure to come, when I think about where I am in life right now, I find my heart full and grateful. I’ve had the chance to see several special people I don’t see very often as the days march toward Jesus’ birth. Many have given gifts of nick nacks and others have offered wonderful food, a few have joined me for a festive lunch and I find that this is truly the season of giving.
I sometimes wonder why life can’t feel this good all year long.
What is it about this holiday that brings folks together? And why do I want to sip apple cider and have meaningful conversations around fireplaces that smell of pine and smoke during the month of December? My husband and I sat with some extended family around an open firepit recently. We talked of everything and nothing and watched our daughters chase their nearly matching dogs around the expansive yard. The whole time we visited smoke continued to blow from the firepit into my husband’s face, no matter how often he moved his lawn chair. We laughed when he got in the shower later only to smell burning firewood as he started to wash his hair.
It was a reminder of time well invested.
Last weekend was fabulous as I spent it laughing and sharing with people who have been a part of my life story for more than half of my living days. They are precious to me. We shopped, ate and opened Christmas gifts all while catching up on our overly busy lives. It was in this merriment I discovered someone very close to me was going to have serious surgery after the first of the year. Again, I was reminded how valuable the relationships are around us. Life has a way of speeding by with so much of what we “intended” to do with or for others never quite getting done. Oh, I know we get the basics covered, like cleaning the house or raking the yard, most of the time. But, sometimes I think we neglect the important things for the trivial?
Maybe I’m talking to myself more than anyone else here, but I struggle with this.
I still have a card on my dresser that’s been there for weeks that I’m “going to mail” to a friend who had cancer surgery. I “intend to” get the address of another friend whose mother passed away recently so I can send a sympathy card. I “meant to” plan a mini party for our Sunday School class so we could fellowship together, but again, time escaped me. I “should” bake cookies for all the nice folks who work around my small town whom I see on a weekly basis. They could probably use some encouragement and joy in this most busy season where folks aren’t always the nicest when having to wait in yet another long line.
I could go on, but I think you get what I am trying to say.
Life is short.
Spend your days on things that matter; things that REALLY matter. I mean, honestly, who’s going to care if your living room has been dusted this week? There’s a precious lady in my life whose gift is hospitality. She makes you feel like family and will cook for you on the spot if you drop by for any reason. She’s always told me, “I’m not worried about this house, it’s about the people who come in it.” Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting THINGS to look perfect or be perfect that I lose sight of the PEOPLE and what they bring into my life. I let the dust on the mantle distract me and the next thing I know I have a clean house and no time to invite anyone into it.
Christmas reminds me to be intentional about showing folks how much I love them and what they mean to me.
I read once we need to have the attitude of Christmas all year long. I don’t think I understood what that expression meant until this year. Oh, I could read the words and get that we need to always celebrate Jesus, but Christmas also means we get LIFE. I’ve told you how I am beginning to feel the joy of the holiday seep back into my life after a season of tremendous loss. Now that I am staggering out of the fog of devastating grief, I want to celebrate the gift of life, but not only life, actually LIVING. The birth of Jesus means we get to LIVE our days with HOPE. How wonderful is that? We get to enjoy family and friends for a number of years and then we get to live on in eternity with the ONE we’re celebrating.
This is something I tend to preach on as I get older, and something I think I’ll be learning for the rest of my days. Life isn’t about the stuff we accumulate, it’s about people. I’ve told many I don’t necessarily care about a gift, just spend some time with me. The time IS the gift and this year has been one of the best holiday seasons I’ve had in a long time. It’s not that I don’t appreciate gifts, especially thoughtful ones, or homemade ones, but I’ve realized the person giving it and the time we’ve spent together means way more than the gift they bear.
You won’t regret the time you spent with people, but you might regret if you are more busy dusting than visiting.
Well, the lights on my Christmas tree stopped working this week and I cannot for the life of me find a string of white lights? I’ve looked everywhere, but with no luck. I’m rolling with it, I’m just lighting candles instead AND I’m not going to let it keep me from hosting a few people over for the holiday. This home will never be perfect, and that suits me just fine, my imperfection fits in perfectly.