I have long since wrangled with The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I have issues with the holly and the jolly. I even wrote this little diddy on the old family blog, four years ago, back before I became a Serious Writer and such. (Yes, please chuckle here.)
The real struggle, for me, is the vying of two separate celebrations to win my heart. I still desperately want to drown myself in some peppermint mocha, or at the very least some red and green M&M’s, and pretend that the season is magical, wonderful, and life is blissful. (Why am I such a sucker?) I also desperately want to stick to the practice of celebrating Advent, and preparing Him room in our hearts. Much as I tried, I ended up with an apathetic heart that just wanted to curl up, watching cheery, if not mindless, Christmas movies and eat All Of The Sweets.
Despite the worldly portrayal of the Christmas season, this year I was witness to a lot of reminders that carols and sparkly stuff don’t shut out the bad things of life. We had friends celebrating their first Christmas without one of their children this year. I had friends celebrating yet another year with no children at all. My husband’s grandfather, his mother’s father, passed away on December 23rd. Even though there was peace, joy, and beautiful glimpses of heaven given to his loved ones by the Lord, it starkly stood out as an anticipated tragedy that shouldn’t be occurring amid all the sparkles outside.
And so we celebrate on, December after December, each year adding more bumps, bruises, and limps to our hustle and bustle.
Next year, I am resolving just one thing for Christmas: to take off some of the weight of holiday to-do’s and doing my shopping a little differently. I am only buying gift cards (except for the kiddos). Each of our family members is getting the opportunity to Gift Well, by shopping from businesses that are serving and improving lives of our less fortunate neighbors around the world. Good luck to all of our gift recipients!
There were so many things I wanted to do and just didn’t get around to this time. Even with throwing as many activities off my beam as possible, including housekeeping and pretty giftwrap and, well, writing. (Sorry for the reference, if you haven’t read For the Love.)
I did manage to do a fair job completing the Advent devotions, one for me and one for the boys. And they loved it too, even if only one of them has only some understanding of what I’m sharing with him. Our Christmas season may have had its moments of heartache but was, in hindsight, not without a heaping side of grace and joy to accompany the ashes that the world has to offer.
When all of the hubbub died down, and I had a quiet moment alone, cleaning the kitchen of all The Things, my Father leaned in and lovingly nudged my dry heart. He also gave me a word for 2016. This was the first time it came to me like this, but now I can clearly see a defining word for the past several years as well.
2015 – Remain. 2014 – Brave. 2013 – Faith. 2012 – Trust.
And 2016 is going to be (drum roll, please)….Listen. Also known as Hear. It seems weird and a little cliché to have a single word that defines a whole year of your life. Even weirder, to know it in advance, without the foresight of what the year may hold. But I guess that’s just faith for you.