It may partly have been because I run around a little bit tired, which makes me more emotional, and that things have been stressful this semester, which also makes me more emotional, but I was a bit teary-eyed for much of the service.
Christmas is my favorite time of year. This is partly because I have fond memories with my family. I love the familiar music. I love the colorful Christmas lights. The food and the music and the whole atmosphere just makes me think love, coziness, closeness. Many people are more likely to smile and say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays (especially if they see a toddler dancing into a store singing Jingle Bells)...but only if the people are not falling in to rushing around and thinking of the time as a series of checklists to get done before the holiday.
I struggle with that part of it each year and especially this year. I am dieing to get started on my holiday shopping. I know what I want to do and mostly what I want to get. I know many of the things that I want to bake and put up. I know that I want to drive around and look at Christmas lights with the kids. I know I want to keep up with the advent wreath and the advent calendars. I want to donate to Toys for Tots, get an Angel off the Angel Tree, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, and do so much more.
I also know that I do not have the time to do all of that.
When I was an undergraduate I would take my last final, go back to my dorm room and put on Christmas music. Then I would wrap my Christmas presents to take home.
I sort of miss those days when it seemed pretty simple and straight forward. At one point in my life all of my shopping was done by the end of October. That is far from the case now.
I know that right now it my life I have to pick and choose.
Really, for my kids, it doesn't have to be a big grand all out holiday. They will remember the things that I choose to invest time in and the rest will not matter. We can bake a few cookies, and put out a few decorations. It will not matter that I only put out half of the Christmas decorations. They will not miss it if I bake just three different kinds of cookies instead of four.
This is the first Christmas where Doug and Andy have specific toys they want...and I have already started to prep them that Santa may not bring them exactly what they want because Santa might think that there are better toys for them that have more play potential and more potential to stir their imaginations. They must learn to appreciate what they have because there are truly many who have much less. I purposefully found an Angel Tree child who was about the same age as my children so they would be forced to give away toys they might want for themselves.
This is a good Christmas for my children to begin learning about what Christmas is truly about. Christmas is a celebration of the fact that Jesus came and was born for us.
At the end of the Hanging of the Green service the whole congregation went out to the lawn where a fire was burning. We had holly leaves that we were supposed to toss in the fire after offering three prayers.
Andy had lost his holly leaf somewhere so I gave him mine. As I watched him make prayer hands and scrunch his eyes tightly closed as he prayed I realized that there are just three things I want this holiday season...three H's for me, my family, my friends, my community, and the world.