Tomorrow is the day that everywhere you go, whenever anyone writes the date, or engages in casual conversation, they exclaim, "Can you believe it’s December 1st already? Christmas will be here before you know it!" Ah, Christmas. The anticipation. The preparation. The celebration. Which do you do more of this time of year?
Last year I did a little experiment. (By now, you’re probably thinking I’m way too analytical and introspective!) I wondered about what exactly kept me so busy during December. I wondered how meaningful it all was. And, I wondered if it really helped me prepare and celebrate. My faith is important to me. Did my activities reflect my faith and my belief of why we celebrate this season? So, I decided to take a picture each day and write a little something to reflect on each particular day and how it related to Christmas. I am not going to do the same thing this month, although if it sounds interesting to you, I totally encourage you to do it. It proved to be extremely valuable to me. I learned some lessons that I will put into practice this year.
Here’s the thing… no matter what the holiday or special occasion… life happens! We can have the best intentions with our list of things to do, but some days, it just simply does not happen. Here is an excerpt from December 5 last year…
"What a day! What started as a relatively calm and "normal" day, turned into one filled with a hectic schedule and lots of emotion. No matter what time of year, it is not easy being a teenager! This evening was filled with the highs and lows of teenage years, complete with laughter and tears. There was no more Christmas decorating done, and not another present was purchased or wrapped. It was just the stuff of life."
The stuff of life. You know what it is as well as I do. It is when things don’t go as planned. It is when the schedule you had penciled in for today, didn’t include keys locked inside your car, sick children, extra demands at work or a doctor’s appointment lasting 3 hours instead of a half hour! It is when your list of things to do had no way of knowing what would really have to be done today. Big or little, these things can be some of the most frustrating things and quickly and efficiently steal our joy. The stuff of life. It ends up at the top of the list every time. The only difference is how we will react to it. Can you manage a smile and go on with your day after locking your keys in your car or has it cast a cloud over the rest of your day? Can we enjoy a little extra reading time while waiting for the doctor or is our blood pressure higher than ever after waiting an hour?
The Christmas season is upon us. It’s up to us how we will handle all of life that comes our way in the next 25 days. WIll we lose our joy or savor the moments? As you begin your own holiday preparations, I wish you abundant peace and uncommon joy in the process.
Practical Tip: My dear friend, Margie is a school teacher and every Christmas does a shoebox project with her first graders. They are to bring things to fill a shoebox to give to needier children at Christmas. She encourages her students not to separate out something that has more than a few. For example, a child may bring in a package of 20 hair ties. They could split that pack and give 5 each to 4 children. But she encourages them to give the pack away and let the child that receives it have the blessing of being able to share and give – maybe for the first time in their life! It really is such a blessing to be able to give. To give others that privilege is a gift in itself.