I finally gave in to my girls’ requests to put up the Christmas tree. They’ve been asking since our first cold day in October. Now, I like Christmas lights and wonder as much as the next person, but I know myself. The extra excitement and clutter really wear thin for me after about a month. I start to crave order, clean countertops, and simplicity. Call me a grinch, but I think one can only handle so much excitement before it gets annoying.
So, what would compel me to decorate for Christmas a full two weeks before Thanksgiving this year? I’m not completely sure, but I think it may have something to do with a desire to help my family experience a little bit of the delight and awe that we tend to associate with Christmas Eve while still in the middle of the hectic holiday season.
The days are getting shorter. The weather is colder. We’re more tired. But school and activities ramp up. Demands on our time and our minds increase. Where are we supposed to pull that extra energy from? At the end of this year, I find myself depleted. At first I thought that was a bad thing, but now I’m wondering if it’s just part of a regular life rhythm. We weren’t designed to go and go and go and never stop. What if the shorter days and the tired bodies are an invitation to interact differently with the world?
Some of you are probably pretty good at this: you pour yourself some hot cocoa, put on your fuzzy socks and comfy pants, and cuddle up on the couch with a good book or a good movie. For me, though, that always felt a little wrong – maybe even a little lazy. Maybe I thought there was a better use of my time. What I have noticed, though, is that when I allow myself to do this, I begin to relax. My shoulders release their tension, I enjoy the gift of presence with my family and the comfort of quiet connection with one another. No one has to think too hard or create too much. It’s a real gift. And somehow the Christmas tree makes it a little easier for me to do this. It seems to invite me to sit and stare for a while. Maybe in this fast paced culture, many of us could use a little more sitting and staring.
Now, it clearly can’t be done every day. There’s other stuff to do. However, I’m experimenting a little with listening to the needs of my body this winter and moving slower when I can – in my body and in my mind. I suspect that it will allow my body and my soul to refresh a bit. When the sun comes back out, maybe I’ll be ready to move a little faster. But not today – today I’m enjoying the stillness whenever I can find it.