This past weekend I had just walked into a busy store when a flashing red light caught my eye.
Only 17 days until Christmas!
I dodged the other shoppers' carts as I made my way to the craft section. I was here to buy fabric to make stockings. Some how when I unpacked our Christmas decorations, our family of 8 only had 4. Every year I say I will make more, but I never get to it.
I touched every shade of felt and flannel trying to find the perfect one. My husband looked overwhelmed.
"Why don't we just buy stockings?"
"No." I protested, "They are going to be family heirlooms. I can just make them. Look I'll make matching ones for everyone...I can embroider our names on them...and what if I applique felt shapes on them...like angels for the girls and shepherds for the boys, and ours could have Mary and Joseph and....."
"I'm going to look in the Christmas section", and he walked away from me.
He found stockings for $6 and each kid picked out a color. Done.
I wrinkled my nose. They weren't perfect, but I gave in. I had too many other things to do anyway.
Earlier this season I had promised myself that I wasn't going to stress out this year. I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I have spent so many Decembers trying to do it all that I have missed the joy.
How did I let this happen again? I let myself get caught up in my to-do list.
I shook it off. No. This year I will keep it simple.
I had a conversation with my sister-in-law about this:
"I don't want to bake you cookies", I confessed.
"I promise I won't bake you any cookies either!" We laughed at our ridiculous deal, but I think we both breathed a sigh of relief. Freedom.
I realized that I don't have to do anything. My overachieving is not helping anyone.
What did the angels sing?
"Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth PEACE to men on whom His favor rests" Luke 2:14
Peace. When was the last time someone described the Christmas season as peaceful?
Christmas is not an emergency. Christmas is a gift.
This year I am craving a gentle and quiet spirit. I am choosing to rest in His peace and share in His joy. I still have a to-do list, but it's not a "have to-do list", it's what I choose to do.
I am going to bake cookies with my children, and let them eat all the pretty ones.
I am going to give freely without worry if it's enough.
I am going to focus on the moments that make Christmas so special and leave out the things that distract me.
Am I worried that people might be offended by this? A little, but I think that if I am feeling this way, then they probably are too. Maybe we all need to just be honest with each other, take a deep breath, and just calm down.
I want to look towards Christmas with child-like anticipation, not overwhelming worries and stress. Keeping it simple doesn't mean it will be empty. We can still have a very full Christmas, just one that is full of the things that really matter.