A few things make me want to jab my eyeball with a sharp pencil.
Whining, disrespect, disobedience, arguing, verbal interruptions, listening to someone eating breakfast cereal.
And, reflecting upon 2007 and 2010, the Christmas holidays.
Yet here we are again, and there’s nothing I can do to stop the impending doom of craziness. As if my life isn’t chaotic enough, now I have to cram holiday parties, shopping, cooking, Christmas cards, wrapping, and decorating into our already crammed calendar.
We learned during The Black Christmas of 2007 that we cannot do it all. We have to choose carefully, or it’s gonna get ugly. I have toyed with the idea of not sending Christmas cards at all this year – simply to have one less thing to do – but Michael gently nudged me away from that idea. Gently, because he knows discussing Christmas preparations is a minefield this time of year. One wrong step, and mama could pull out her black turtleneck on Christmas Day.
We will host our sporadically annual Holiday Open House this year – an event we used to do every year, but haven’t for the past two years because we were selling a house, then building a house and temporarily living in a crackerbox – so now that we’re somewhat settled into The House (which, by the way, was designed for the specific purpose of hosting ginormous parties), we’re jumping back on that horse. And I’m kinda excited about it. I’d be more excited if I could wave a magic wand and utter some incantation a la Harry Potter and make scrumptious holiday treats appear on my kitchen island. But whatever.
Man, life seems better in fiction.
I learned several years ago that preparation is key to a happy holiday – so I’ve already made my baking list and grocery list. It’s a start. I had grand intentions of starting to bake and freeze at the beginning of November; yet we landed in the middle of November, and I’m not sure what happened to the last two weeks. My to-do list keeps getting longer, and the days pass more quickly, and somehow it feels like I’m accomplishing nothing.
Breathe. I need to breathe. Simplify. Move forward in love. Logistical preparation has its place, but heart preparation is the key. Thankfulness, grace, generosity, hospitality. Those should be woven between every line on my to-do list.
If I bake a thousand million cookies and roll two zillion Oreo truffles, yet have not love, I accomplish nothing.
If I plan my entire Thanksgiving menu from Allrecipes.com and knock out all the grocery shopping in one day, and have not love, I am merely a crazy-haired, minivan driving soccer mom in yoga pants and a baseball cap in need of a stiff drink.
If I chase my children through Dollar Tree as they eagerly shop for gifts to fill their Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, and I have not love, then I only reinforce the idea that Christmas is only about checking items from my list while I exhaust myself and make my family miserable.
Love for my God. Love for my family. Love for the world. Those alone should motivate and energize me. Those alone should be the reason behind every crossed-off item on my to-do list. Not to impress, not because “it’s what we do,” not because it’s expected. Because we love. And we love because we are loved. Such simple ideas, and ones we have heard every other Sunday morning – that God loves us, that Jesus’ birth is the reason for the season and proof that God loves us, therefore we ought to love others. But this season, I want to truly dive into that truth. Every gift I buy, every scoop of flour I level, every card I sign – may I think I am doing this because of love.
Maybe then the sharp pencils can stay in the junk drawer and away from my eyeballs.