The Holiday Season
In our family we have a few traditions. We enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends on Thursday. On Friday, Mark takes the girls Black Friday shopping before the sun wakes up while I do the one thing that everyone appreciates—sleep—so I won’t be cranky. Then on Saturday, there is the Michigan/Ohio State Football game. (Not a happy time this year.) Then in the evening, we pull out the boxes of Christmas decorations and put up the tree and decorate the house. This is such a wonderfully stressful time, especially for a “control freak” like me. Due to a back injury this year, I’ve been relegated to sitting on the couch with nothing to do but watch until it is time to hang the ornaments. In order not to cause an “incident,” I have decided to work on my blog while my daughters put lights on the Christmas tree.
You would think this would be delightful because we are very particular about our lights. The first big argument my husband and I ever had was about the lights on the Christmas tree. He thought they looked fine hanging on the outside. I disagreed. The result was that from that moment on after Mr. Warren puts up the tree, Mrs. Warren strings the lights (whether the tree is real or artificial). I think I got the bum end of that deal. One year I found a special ornament that I picked up to give to my wonderful husband that epitomizes the thought process that most men have towards decorating a Christmas tree. I show it here now.
As I was saying, you would think that would be nice, but since I am a control freak, I just had to bite down on a throw pillow to keep from making needless suggestions about the placement of the lights on the tree. Realizing that my girls have totally got this and don’t need me directing them is taking some getting used to. While they are working, I am looking online for a twelve step program for recovering control freaks. It’s very discouraging.
Traditions For All Ages
Traditions can be wonderful things, such as putting the lights on the tree (because there is only one way and it has confounded men through the ages), driving through neighborhoods looking at decorations, and stopping for ice cream afterwards. (I live in Florida, and there is a strange phenomenon in this area called warm weather.) Some traditions, though, are not so wonderful—such as the family feuds that we hear about and even take part in at times (and I’m not talking about that horrible game show). When was the last time you faced a holiday when you felt your insides tighten at the thought of spending time with that person or that family, when you peeked around the corner at a thawing 20 pound bird, or when you wanted to sleep under your bed rather than in it?
Typically, we ladies rush around making most of the magic happen, whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas. We are so busy that we forget to enjoy the time of quiet, thinking about all the blessings we have, or the joy we see around us in our children, in friends, in family, in most people in general. I have witnessed it myself and, unfortunately, I have let it roll right on by without acknowledging it—“This message brought to you by the One who loves you most!”
We are too busy. This is not news. This is an everyday statistic for us gals. Luke tells us about the same thing happening in Bible times:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:30-42; NIV).
Though I’m not as bad as some women I’ve seen, I used to fall into the Martha category. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized that some things are not as important as others—initially. It doesn’t always alleviate the stress, though. My refusal to push myself to catch dust before it hits the floor or lands on the ceramic Nativity set displayed on the piano doesn’t mean that I don’t still have the impulse. It becomes a tug of war. One moment I’m relaxed and enjoying family and friends, the next I begin to look around. I start to think of things that I feel need to be done in order to continue to keep everyone happy, when what I’m really looking at are things I want to be done to keep me happy. Things like the dishes scraped and in the dishwasher, the food put away, everything put back in its place, wrapping paper trash tossed, laundry folded, carpet vacuumed, groceries purchased, car washed, crime stopped, Wars Averted, WORLD PEACE!!!! Sorry, got a little carried away. Like I said, I’m totally relaxed on the outside, but on the inside sometimes there is a battle going on.
Somewhere along the way, we ladies have been fed a bill of goods that says we have to be constantly busy. (My husband will say that I need to take my own advice. It really ticks me off when he’s says that because I know he’s right.) How this trend got started is a mystery. I’m sure I could google it if I wanted to, but that’s not the point of this blog.
When we were children, there was a wonder and a joy about this time of year. I remember, even as a teenager, that it was a time of contemplation about what the Lord has done for us. It was time to rest and just be. I would actually get up early in the morning before anyone was stirring, turn on the Christmas tree lights, and just gaze at them—at the beauty of the decorations. In the quiet, I would watch the blinking lights on the tree and listen to Christmas music, think about the coming holiday, feel the anticipation of all the wonderful things that we would do and eat and play. I wish I could capture that innocence again.
I used to love looking at the Christmas tree, but I really don’t look at it anymore. As a matter of fact, we struggle to put it up and decorate it beautifully and put presents under it. Then we ignore it until Christmas day. My how things have changed. Our busy lifestyles of going to this Christmas program, cooking for that Christmas choir party, practicing those Christmas specials tend to take the joy out of the season completely.
I Dare You!!!
I dare you one morning this month to sneak out into the living room, plug in the Christmas tree lights, maybe make yourself a cup of tea, and just sit and think with wonder on the beauty of that tree. Think about the birth of our Savior and what it meant for Him to come as a babe, wrapped in this weak flesh, face a future of love, betrayal, agony, death, then glory, all because He loved us so much. I dare you to do this and see what happens. It may just calm your heart and fill you with gratitude. It may just help you to remember that life is not about stuff that needs to be done. It may remind you that God has blessed you beyond measure and that this good news needs to be shared, but mostly it may help you recapture that joy that you haven’t felt in a long time, to be still and know that He is God.
May this holiday season be a time of quiet joy for you and your family. May you truly have peace and love in your life and for those around you. God bless and keep you all.