On a friend’s Facebook page the other day, she started a thread on what people did during the busy holiday season of Christmas to bring things down a little. Things that helped them to focus on the birth of Christ or on family instead of the “rat-race” that can be December. In our home we have a number of traditions that help us refocus and reconnect with each other and the birth of Jesus. Even without these traditions though, Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. I love sitting beside a lit Christmas tree and reading a good book or drinking hot chocolate and snuggling one of my kiddos. While it can be chaotic it can also be one of the most fulfilling times of year.
As a Christ-follower, I feel that somehow I have an inherent sense of peace during this season. It’s almost as if December 1st hits me with an inexplicable joy and great sense of anticipation. In all honesty, it has nothing to do with presents. While I love giving gifts and, of course, receiving them, it’s more the festivities, colour, songs, etc. that sets my heart in a perpetual rhythm of gladness for one full month.
This year hasn’t been any different! Don’t get me wrong, I have had many moments of being completely frustrated, of being over the top angry and just all around overwhelmed (just ask my husband he’ll have a few stories). But the sense of quiet and “bubbling, beneath the surface excitement” is always there. Amidst the chaos of Christmas parties, Christmas baking, Christmas programs, Christmas shopping, Christmas dressing we find so many moments as a family to connect and hang out. Part of that is purposeful and part of that seems to be a natural inclination that we have as human beings to “need” each other. I realize that I am blessed to have family, both immediate and extended, that constantly seek out moments to re-connect. I have siblings that care to know each other, parents that cherish time with each of their children and grandchildren, in-laws that are more than eager to carve out time to spend with us, and a husband and children who actually try to be together and there for each other. I also have friends that are more than happy to interrupt an already busy season with impromptu gatherings, or scheduled bake-offs, or even just random, deep texts about the realities of life.
A perfect example of seeing this “need” for each other happened the other day when Annie came home reciting one of her many, little pieces for her Christmas program at preschool and the oldest three piped up how they were planning on attending. “Where else would they be”, they wondered!! Little did they realize that the program happened during school hours and they would all be in their classes during her performance. While I was thrilled that they were all planning on being there without question, I had my doubts about pulling them out of school just for a 15 minute program. A week and a bit rolled by and the weekend before, James and I headed out of town together. The kids were well taken care of by my brother and sister-in-law. The Sunday afternoon when we got home, the kids were so happy to see us. As the evening drew to a close, I realized that Annie’s program was the next morning and I hadn’t really given it too much thought. I took a moment to think through just how meaningful it was that all the big kids wanted to show their little sister support and be there in her excitement. We sat down and had a little chat about whether or not they really wanted to miss school, what they’d be missing, if they had projects, homework, etc. that was due and if perhaps they would like to just have a day at home all together afterward. I was thrilled that a spontaneous day of Christmas cheer turned into a relaxing day with my children. We saw Annie:
We had a few snacks with her:
And then I dropped the one child off who loves school for the rest of his day and the rest of us headed off to Wal-Mart to do some Christmas shopping. I was blessed to see my children having a wonderful time picking out gifts for their cousins, thinking of others, happily enjoying themselves, together, as a family.
The rest of the day consisted of homework, cookie baking, Christmas music and finished off with a belated Saint Nicholas Day celebration. While we couldn’t do everything we’d normally do for this celebration on this particular evening it was well worth the decision to follow through with a portion of it at least. Listening to Sam pray at the dinner table that we’d all understand that the reasons for why we’ve chosen to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day during the Christmas season as a family was because it would help remind us to be kind, to give to others in need and remember that Jesus asks us to help those in need, was such a huge reminder to me that Christmas does bring a depth of joy that we don’t feel any other time of year.
Later as the kids opened their Saint Nicholas Day stockings and we planned our yearly Angel Tree trip for later in the week, we laughed, we read our Christmas story for the evening, the girls and I sang a carol or two and I was reminded that God is good. He is good all the time, but we are so able to recognize His goodness during this time of year when we feel the joy of the gift He gave us. When we feel our families reaching towards each other and finding memories in the moments we share as we join in the traditions that we’ve created, uniquely, as an individual family.
So this year, I feel challenged to recognize each day a moment or two, when I feel the closeness of my Creator and to bask in it. To savour that moment so that when the rest of the year traipses on I’ll remember the peace I could rest in during this particular season.