It’s Christmas. I generally love Christmas – the lights, the decorations, the Christmas baking, the handmade movement, it’s all beautiful to me.
It’s not that I dislike Christmas this year, its just that I feel… ambivalent.
It’s the first year I have zero presents under the tree. And that secret closet of potential gifts that I usually stuff full in garage sale season is completely empty.
I have a lovely “scheduled blog post” planner filled out of the advent series I was inspired to write back in August (I should have written it when inspiration hit.). Instead, I’ve been silent this entire month.
I’d love to spread Christmas cheer. I’d love to lean into the mystery of the birth of our God in human form. I’d love to explore what incarnation – God with us – means. I’d love to unwrap Christmas hymn lyrics like, “Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Isn’t that something? I always imagined in the presence of God I’d be reduced to a worm, knowing his greatness next to my nothingness. But the author of that hymn puts it the opposite: God appears on earth and for the first time we recognize the infinite value God places on us. The soul felt its worth.
I’d love to do any of those things, but instead I stay silent because though each thought has a start, they all drift off not fully formed. Not yet. So rather than spreading my ambivalence, my unfinished thoughts, my season of waiting, perhaps my silence can make room for those that do have something worthwhile to say this season:
I’ve mentioned James Bryan Smith before, but he’s the one who first pointed out that beautiful phrase from O Holy Night. You can hear more of what he has to say in his podcast, Things Above. Listen here
Ishtar’s Odyssey. My sister-in-law started me on this series as a great family advent tradition. Each book follows the story of a kid travelling to Bethlehem and eventually experiencing the first Christmas. The short stories are perfect for nightly reads, each pointing to God, and ideal for kids ages 6-10. Ishtar is the son of one of the wise men and it follows his journey with a caravan to follow the star to Bethlehem. Each kid has a different story, a different take, but all lead to Jesus. Our kids love the series and it’s a simple and fun way to count down to Christmas.
The Great House of God. This isn’t Christmassy at all, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately of what it means to live as the Daughter of the King. How do you think they celebrate Christmas in heaven? I bet it’s great. God’s pretty awesome at celebrations and I bet Christmas is one of his favourites. What would it mean to “come home” for Christmas, Jesus-style? I happened to have this book in a forgotten corner, so have been leaning into it as a symbol of coming home to my Father’s house this Christmas.
The Next Right Thing. I don’t know who coined the phrase, but it’s become meaningful to me through the podcast (and soon to be book) by Emily P. Freeman. She talks about decision fatigue and how we sometimes get so overwhelmed that we don’t do anything at all. THat’s how my Christmas feels. So her take is to slow down, step away from the big picture, and do the next right thing. I’m not feeling guilty for not having my Christmas shopping done (or started), for having only 1 Christmas cookie in the house, for not being the one to “Make” Christmas this year. Instead, each day, I just try to do the next right thing. Today, that meant helping my daughter work on her home-made gift for her sister. It was the next right thing. Tomorrow, I’ll have coffee with a friend and try to get one family’s gifts purchased and wrapped. The next right thing. I’ll go for a run, I’ll read the Word. The next right thing. I’ll show up to help at church for a couple hours, but I won’t feel bad taht I’m not doing more. We’ve warned our kids it’s not going to be the year of presents, but it will be the year of time together as a family and they’re pretty awesome about it. They’ve come up with homemade gift ideas and we’ve been busy baking, crafting, sewing, coloring and building gifts for each other.
What’s feeding your soul this Christmas?