How did it go so fast? How is it that we are only a week away from Christmas and only two weeks away until 2011? Did I sleep too much that it flew by so fast? I am in awe at how quickly this holiday season was upon us and it seems from reading cards from family and friends, it hit us all blindsided. Even though we know its coming. Even though every year we vow not to let it happen again next year. Even though I have been making cards since August with many of you in classes. I just don't understand. But then I pause. I think about why CHRISTmas is even around. What are we to be really giving this holiday.
As I find myself praying though this morning how to get it all done without too much stress to me or my family, I realize, for me at least, how this has all happened.
This year, the Christmas season for me has been a Holiday of Intention.
- The classes we have been teaching have had meaning - with specific thoughts of who you or I may even be making he gifts for.
- The Christmas cards being sent out by me are not sent yet because I want send personal handwritten sentiments, not just a signature. They will update people on our lives for the ones we don't see often. They will ask about their families and their lives and they will remind each of them individually why they are special to us.
- The gifts we are giving family and friends, are about memories shared with them and how important they were to us. Recapturing the emotions and fun shared with them throughout this year or in years past where we can. Some may not even be done for Christmas (gasp!).
- The holiday parties we are attending will be with those people that matter to us and share life with us and we will be sure those events don't interfere with personal family time. It won't be just a "yes" because we got an invitation. Many events and gatherings will be with family we want to see and spend time with.
- The time has been spent caring for and helping friends in need. While many people have been running around to give the "perfect" Christmas with decorations and gifts, we have been intentional about calling and offering help, serving and reaching out to others:
* for the friends we have that are lonely and need a phone call just to say hi
* for the friend who had a negative stress test and are worried about heart disease and what may be needed to fix that, worrying that every pain could be a heart attack
* for the friend we have whose adult daughter is recovering from a stroke
* for the friends we have who have had surgery this week or are getting ready for surgery
* for the friends we have with a cancer diagnosis, or who are in limbo waiting for the possible diagnosis
* for the families that we minister to, many with loss of job or what we would consider lesser living conditions, but who we have built relationships with through the ministry this year, who we now know and share our lives with
* for the families of former prisoners/offenders, who are trying to get their life back on track and are struggling to fight addictions and situations
* for our friend trying to work full time and care for a mother and brother who are both dying of cancer, running to another state every week trying to make sure they spend all the time together they can before it's too late
* for our friends who have experienced great losses this year of family and people special to them in their lives for many different reasons
* for the people we have met this year who have lost someone to suicide
* for our daughter and her husband who just had her third child - with two boys already only 3 and 4 1/2
* for our son-in-law currently stationed in South Korea for a term and not able to be home with family this year, away from his wife who could not go with him for this year term, working our country
This holiday has definitely been about intention. It's been about spending time on the things that matter most to us. So even though the cards and notes may not get mailed until January, it's OK. Even though there is still shopping we want to do and should do, we will find rest. Even though everyone may not understand us not having extended holiday hours this year, we understand it is so we don't over-stress our bodies and end up sick the month of January and it's so we can spend time with family and friends. Even though we are closing between Christmas and New Years except for one day, we will be grateful to be spending the time with family from out of town. Some of them we haven't seen in a year or two so do those last minute sales really matter that much?
As you read this, I ask that you also take pause and think about what kind of Holiday and last week before Christmas that you will be having. The cards really aren't important if they come with just a signature, especially if you haven't been able to make time or connect with that person all year. Trying to just have a gift for someone, and not thinking of the person you are buying it for, or making it for, doesn't matter. Making sure you attend every holiday party so no one is offended will just leave you tired and feeling lost. Decorating and cooking for many, many hours to have the perfect meal for everyone coming over is not where our time should be spent.
Instead focus that time on calling an old friend to see how they are. That's even better than a card if it's been awhile since you have shared life with them. Share homemade cookies with neighbors if you get too many for yourself from friends. Invite others over for a cup of coffee. Help someone run and errand who may have pain if they go out in the very cold weather we have been having. Remember with love those you know who have had a loss this year or life changing event and who may not be experiencing any joy at all this holiday season. You still have time to make your own Holiday of Intention.