Christmas is a big deal. At least it is for those of the Christian Faith, and many more who are just looking for good news, joy and a touch of magic as we head into winter. The holiday in many ways has become all-consuming. Big and audacious, everything is over the top in activities, gifts, décor, celebrations, and oh, yes, eating. Some of us spend weeks if not months preparing for the season, causing ourselves substantial levels of stress and anxiety mixed in with the excitement and delight.
I confess, I am one of those people. Every year I declare that I’m going to start earlier, or cut back, and save myself some anxiety and exhaustion. And every year I still dive in, full throttle. I decorate the house like some kind of Christmas-workshop mad scientist. I bake cookies until they are piled high and deep. I buy far more gifts than our budget can really comfortably handle, and I entertain family and friends every chance I get. If I don’t settle in on December 24th with bags under my eyes and a sore back, I feel like I haven’t done my job. And yet – I only have myself to blame, because I love every inch of it. Sure, I get myself overtired and stressed, but I wouldn’t push myself if it didn’t give me joy.
Yet as I get older, I’m realizing more and more that it really isn’t the big, bright and bold things that make the holiday perfect for me. It is the little things. The things that we might otherwise not really notice. After describing to my sister some gift packages I was putting together for friends and family, I kept saying things like “I just need a little something to put with this… “ or “I got him a little something…” my sister laughed and said to me “you are all about the little somethings!” Wise big sister that she is, she is right.
It’s not about the big moments:
It is noticing a young family out for a walk in our unseasonably warm weather, and the little boy is running down the sidewalk, his super-hero cape billowing out behind him – with a look of pure joy and determination on his face – that made me slow down and smile.
It is when our neighbor friends stop by, and we end up curled up on the sofa watching Big Bang Theory together because we all just really need a Time Out and to laugh.
It is when my rock ‘n roll teen son brings down his Frank Sinatra CD to put in my player so I have some “good” Christmas music to listen to.
It is when a young boy in Church School cheerfully explains to me that the Angel he has drawn has eight wings, and the holes he has punched in the paper are stars.
It is one single, beautiful lit candle that pulls our attention away from the laser lights, blinking bulbs and inflatables, and entrances us.
It is sharing a photo and a memory about a loved one who is no longer with us.
It is watching Miracle on 34th Street for the 34th time.
It is having a fun conversation with a single person during a loud and boisterous party.
It is a red bandana tied on the dog.
It is getting to the point where we laugh because half of the tree’s lights keep going out, and we no longer care that it won’t stay lit.
It is extra hugs from everyone and anyone.
It is a simple quote from a 7-year old boy that reads: “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”
After all, when you think about it, all of this… the reason we put so much energy into this holiday and combine so many little moments into a big, giant event, is because of one precious, very important little thing: the birth of a small baby, tucked away quietly in a stable. That’s it. That’s all there is to it, really. If we remember that, then the craziness, the running around, the glitz and glamour, all comes back in to perspective and makes sense.
May you be surrounded by many amazing little things this Christmas, and find joy in every one of them.