It’s sneaking up on me again, as it does every year. I have always been a procrastinator. Each January, I vow to myself that I’m going to be super organized and prepared for Christmas by mid-April, at the very latest. And every Thanksgiving, I tell myself I have plenty of time to catch up on my goal, even if I did miss it by a few months. And by this point in December, panic sets in. I jolt awake in the middle of the night, plagued by all the Christmas things I haven’t done yet. Baking Christmas cookies from scratch, buying and wrapping all the presents, addressing cards, decorating my house…the preparations that I deem unimportant during the day, when other duties crowd them out, wake me up in a cold sweat in the dead of night.
This year is no different. Last night, I lay sleepless, listing all the things I still “have” to do for the holidays in my head. This morning, in the light of day, my thoughts were a little clearer. Maybe ALL the Christmas things don’t have to be done. In truth, our life is completely different this Christmas than in years past. We essentially live in two places now: in town and at the farm. Every other day, we are in transition, gathering up school and personal items and trekking out to the camper. Honestly, all the packing and unpacking, in between keeping up with kids’ schedules and housekeeping, homeschooling and farm duties, is getting to be a little much. I can hardly muster up enough energy to do laundry, much less decorate my house and single-handedly summon up a fabulous Christmas holiday for everyone. Toss in the second stomach bug to hit our house in two months, and I’m finished. And it’s only December 5th.
So today, at least, I’m giving myself the gift of grace. I will sit with my convalescent daughter and read aloud to her instead of rushing around the house, checking off my list. I will take a long, hot shower instead of throwing on workout clothes and pulling my messy hair into a ponytail for the third day in a row. I’ll delay the cookies and make a nutritious, home-cooked meal for my family to eat around the dinner table. And I will silence the guilt, the incessant feeling of being rushed, the pressure to be perfect and to make this month perfect. If I let it crowd out the other stuff, the important stuff, I’ll never be able to focus on the waiting.
The longing season of Advent, in which we are to sit with the anticipation of redemption, usually gets lost in the hustle of making Christmas happen. Now, limited by time constraints as well as our budget, I am forced to wrestle with my desire to force Christmas to be what I want it to be. The knowledge that I cannot redeem myself collides with the reality that I am also limited in my power to control this holiday season. Much as I wish I could fulfill my children’s every desire on their Christmas lists, we cannot. I can’t even seem to get the tree up this year. Maybe it’ll happen before the 25th.
So I may as well pour myself a cup of store-bought egg nog, ease up on the Pinterest projects, and relax…no, rejoice in the knowledge that this season isn’t about what I can do. In fact, it’s really all about what I cannot do, and letting the One who can take over.