Well, friend, Christmas is over. In fact, it was three days ago. Just three days. I’m not sure about you, but, it still doesn’t seem real, does it?!?
Did it really happen?
Did I miss it?
Will the incessant Christmas carols on the radio really end?
It happened so fast.
I don’t know what your world is like during the holly-jolly season, but I think mine prior to the medical roller coaster ride was probably a lot like yours.
Hours of online searching and shopping for the perfect gift for all family and friends.
Hours and hours of in-store shopping for the next best gift for all family and friends.
Hours of baking and cooking and re-baking and re-cooking.
Hours of cleaning and purging toys for the preparation of the Christmas haul my kids seem to receive each year.
Hours of picture taking and re-taking and contemplating just photo-shopping a picture of the youngest kid in later and of course, hours of addressing and stuffing Christmas cards.
Hours spent at obligatory Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, recipe exchanges, ornament exchanges, yet never toddler exchanges. Weird.
Hours of decorating the house with lights, garland, bows, snowmen, coordinating themed trees, yada, yada, yada.
I am sure I have left out quite a bit, but only because I can’t remember all the other stuff I’ve missed out on these last few years. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a woe-is-me blog about how grateful you should be because you actually get to sit upright and live a normal life. I’m beyond that. But, yes, I still think it sometimes.
I have had to adjust what holiday-prep means to me. I couldn’t go to the mall and wander around until I find just the right thing. I couldn’t attend most of the festivities we are invited to. In fact, I don’t bring any food to gatherings usually, because it is all I can do to attend to the gathering itself. Although, part of me thinks this is a ploy of my friends and family to avoid my cooking. Hmm. I might have to address that later. 🙂
But, despite the adjustments, I still spent hours and hours getting ready for Christmas.
Etsy, Amazon.com and I all became BFFs this season and last season since I couldn’t shop in the stores. This was kind of fun, though. With only a few strokes of the keys, you are flooded with endless beautiful options from every possible store. A moment of silence, please. As lovely as that is, man oh man it is easy to get distracted during online shopping. At least in the store, I have my children with me, which is all the motivation to be quick and nimble that I need. Of course, my ADD did not work in my favor, at all, either.
I spent hours editing our family pictures and addressing our Christmas cards. I know how much I love getting them, especially the ones with pictures! But I also think it has gotten a little out of control. I mean, I’ve had to cut my list down by half over the last few years, not because I don’t love half the people. I do! But I simply can’t afford to spend a hundred bucks to send them a picture of my family. Anyone remember when a stamps cost less than a quarter? What’s up with that!?
I took part in as much decorating of the tree and the house as I possibly could. However, this is where I must admit that Ryan actually enjoyed my lying flat-ness since I couldn’t spread snowmen by the dozen around our house. That rascal.
I helped wrap present after present after present. I must admit, I usually love this part. I used to really get into it with coordinating bows and ribbon – it was glorious. Then, I had three kids in four years and leaked a ton of spinal fluid. Now, if the gift is wrapped with only the underneath side showing through, due to mis-wrapping-paper-measurement, and it has a tag on it, I’m good. Plus, the number of gifts has decreased dramatically as the number of our kids has increased. When we had one kid, (first grandchild on all sides, mind you) I am pretty sure he received roughly seventy-four gifts – give or take a dozen. Now, with three small kids, they each get three from us. That’s it, three gifts. I agree with another writer I love when she says “That’s right – three gifts! If it was good enough for baby Jesus, then it’s good enough for you! Anyone who complains will literally get frankincense and myrrh – got it!?!” Amen sista, amen!!
So, overall, friend, although flat, I still devoted a ton of time to getting ready for this Christmas thing.
Hours and hours and hours – even as a horizontal person.
And, all for what?!
The 12.4 seconds that it took for my efforts to be over. And I mean, over.
We are those mean parents who make each kid take turns and open one present at a time so we can all watch and enjoy. Yes, I want to watch and enjoy. But, I also was tired of this whole deal taking 3.2 seconds. I wanted to extend it a little bit if I could.
Either way – whoosh!
In no time, the whole thing is over. We’ve sung “Happy Birthday” to Jesus, we’ve thrown the contents of our stockings all over the place, and we’ve lost our youngest child in a mountain of shredded wrapping paper. We found her eventually, don’t worry.
12.4 seconds flat.
It’s kinda depressing isn’t it!? I mean, am I alone here? Do any of you seem to exchange Christmas morning for Christmas mourning? You know the hours and hours you have devoted to preparing, to thoughtfully selecting gifts for loved ones, to anticipating the birthday of Jesus – and just like that, it’s over.
God lovingly hit me over the head at about 7:48am on Christmas Day.
I looked at the clock and saw that it wasn’t even 8:00am and not only was Christmas morning with our kids over, but they had already discarded a gift or two and moved on to playing with old favorites. What the tinsel?!?
As I stared at the clock, God basically said…”Imagine what would happen if you devoted that kind of time to something eternal?”
BAM! Sometimes He lovingly taps me with His 2×4, and other times He sovereignly smacks me silly.
This was the smackin’ kind.
And I needed it.
I have been in a bit of a funk lately. Yes, it happens to me, too. I know full well that it is because my quiet time has lately lacked in both quiet and time.
I am no Christian idiot. I know that if I just nibble at the Bread of Life, I can’t expect it to last me for the whole day. Shoot, a bowl of cereal can’t last me ‘til 11am, c’mon people.
So, I have talked it over with God and truly decided to invest more time in eternal things.
Spending time playing babies with my daughter and teaching her all about love, how to care for someone, and the One who models that for us perfectly.
Reading the Power Rangers book for the hundredth time with my middle son and taking time to talk about how sin is like the evil Nylocks and how God is bigger and more powerful than any fire spin-sword.
Giving my seven-year-old the chance to fail and be disappointed, in order to build character in him that is far more important than whatever thing he thinks he needed and wanted.
Most of this stuff I’ve been doing, really. For the most part. But, I think there is something powerful about being purposeful about it. Am I the only one who looks up at the clock some days at dinnertime and thinks, “Did I invest in my kid’s spiritual life at all today?”
Maybe I am alone. But, I kinda doubt it.
We have about ten months before we actually have to start thinking about next Christmas-prep. And I’m not talking as if Christmas-prep is bad. Even the Jesus-centered kind of prep can wait – we’ve got time. We’ve got ten months to focus on things more year-round and eternal, and not just manger scene eternal.
What a joy it is to be surrounded by people in my life who I get to invest in.
A few friends who are in crisis at the fact that they don’t get three minutes to themselves to just go pee. Ever.
Another friend who can’t seem to be able to see the beautiful gal she is and instead only hears the lies of ugliness and unworthiness from the enemy.
My husband who so desperately just wants his healthy, normal wife back and is so tired of the load he has carried.
My church, who is always looking for people to serve with a happy heart and smile at every single person who comes through the door.
My kids who are being brought up in a world that is self-centered, entitled, selfish and godless. These same kids who are drawn to goodness, honesty, and truth – just needing me to remind them constantly that all of those things equal Jesus.
Man, I have a lot to do! I better get to work, like yesterday. Because, before you and I know it, we will walk into Hobby Lobby in a tank top and shorts and they will be filling the shelves with Christmas décor again. Taunting us with its nearness. Reminding us of the chaos we often choose. It’ll start all over again, friend. And I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll feel a whole lot better about those fleeting 12.4 seconds, if I know I’ve prepared better for their eternity than I did for that Christmas morning.