Monday, December 9, 2013

Just a Simple Christmas.

I was standing in line at a grocery store when I saw it on the front of a magazine: "7 Ways to Stay Sane During the Holidays."


And there were others: "How to Survive the Holiday Season." "1500 Pinterest Suggestions to Make Your Holiday As Complicated As Possible." "Definitely Do Elf on the Shelf." "Definitely Don't Do Elf on the Shelf." "Post On Facebook Telling Other People if They Should or Should Not Do Elf on the Shelf and Explain Why It Will Ruin Childhood and Probably Undermine Your Entire Future As a Parent One Way or The Other." "Wake Me Up when December Ends." ...I may have invented one or some of the above. But you get the idea.

So...is this Christmas now? Surviving? Maintaining sanity? Planning our brains out down to every last detail? I wish....I just wish....

I just wish it could stay simple.

Call me an idealistic, starry-eyed little Cindy Lou Who, but....you know. Where are you, Christmas? *cue Faith Hill*

Or more appropriately...what are you, Christmas?

Christmas is Christ. It's all about that divine baby, in a simple little manger, under a star in Bethlehem. I know everyone is celebrating different holidays during this time of year, but Christmas is, as obvious by the name, His day. Last night I asked myself if my priorities during the holiday season reflect my conviction about that, and thought about what I could do to whittle down my To Do list to only what's most important.

Christmas is people. It's simple traditions like getting a real live Christmas tree with my roommate, hanging up mismatched ornaments, filling my life with folksy Christmas tunes (and occasionally blasting Mariah Carey in the car #pleaseandthankyou), visiting my family, driving around to look at Christmas lights, visiting ice rinks and holding mittened hands with people worth holding mittened hands with, loading up on hot chocolate and gatherings with friends, putting glitter on stuff, watching favorite Christmas movies, making everything possible smell like cinnamon...and so on. The simple, little, shared traditions are the best ones.

Christmas is compassion. One of the stores I work in at my new job is smack dab in downtown San Francisco, with a big window that overlooks the Christmas tree and ice rink in Union Square. Today I was taking a breather by the window and watching all the comings and goings below, and amongst all the bustle I almost missed the homeless man wrapped in a gray blanket, sleeping on the steps by the ice rink. Northern California has been unusually frigid this week, and my heart went out to him. Is Christmas really Christmas if it means a small percentage of us are nestled by our trees and presents, giving no thought to the very people Christ would want to be out helping during His own birthday celebration? It makes me pause to think. What am I giving Christ for His day? What am I giving to the people He would give to?

Don't get me wrong, I like giving pretty, thoughtful gifts to people as much as the next person. (Maybe even a little more so...I do so sincerely enjoy finding just-the-right gifts for people I love.) I'm not calling for total abandon of such things. And I'm sure Christmas is easily more crazy for people trying to juggle small children, twice the family gatherings due to in-laws, etc. I get that. My life is blessed to be inherently very simple in regards to holidays, if I let it be.

And I do. I do want to let it be. I wish there was a way for us all to let it be. Whatever way my Christmases pan out in future years, in-laws or children or other such things, I hope I always keep it simple. I hope my Decembers always feel long, peaceful and devoid of frenzy. I hope my kids will know that our Christmas will always include service as much as it includes anything under the tree. Mostly, I just hope I never need an article in a magazine to teach me how to "stay sane" and "survive" such a precious, simple, sacred season.

have yourself a merry little Christmas
let your heart be light.


5 comments:

Hope Douglass said...

Such yes. Very truth.

Not to mention, those magazine articles are usually such simple common sense "Ways to Stay Sane" that it's just ridiculous. But I like your strategy. Stick to the basics.

Alicia Hanley said...

Preach it sister. Preach it.

Kylie said...

Sometimes, I get to feeling guilty about how simple the season is around here. I feel bad that I just don't have the time or energy to do much in the way of cookie decorating, and I'm realizing I don't have time to do the handmade gifts I'd like to. But I'm reminding myself that it's not the things that matter, and if the only tradition we get to is seeing the Christmas lights and watching Christmas movies, it's OK. Thanks for your insights :) Merry Christmas, Katie.

Katie said...

This just makes me miss you. You just have this way of simplifying everything right down to the basics - the very important basics that are all too easy to forget sometimes. I hope you are having the time of your life over there in CA (but if you aren't, feel free to move back to UT).

Camille Millecam Whiting said...

Just- YES! You spoke to my soul on that one!