Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Real First Week of Advent

  {A picture from last year. Because right now? The Christmas decorations are still living in the attic.}

I know, my 31 Days of Real are over but apparently I became addicted to using the word "Real" in my post titles. There are worse things.

I'm not sure why but I've been super anticipatory for this holiday season. Christmas decorations began dancing around in my head two months ago. I had crafts planned and cookies with the kids I'd hoped to make. But today is December 1st and I've got nothin'.

My house is a mess. I have a mountain of Cupcake's summer clothes sitting by my feet still waiting to be sorted and put in the attic. You read that right, summer clothes. 

His birthday was yesterday and as of two days prior, I had forgotten about it. That's right, forgotten my own child's birthday.

The tree and the bins of sparkly, garlandy goodness still sit in the freezing cold, junked-up attic. I can't haul it down until I clean things up enough to have a spot to put the tree. And I'm too weary to do any of it, the mess-cleaning or the merry-making.

The guilt sings its familiar tune like an annoying radio song I just can't get out of my head.

And then I read this quote last night from Ann:

Whenever Christmas begins to burden, it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ. Any weight in Christmas has to be of this world. 
Christ came into this world as grace to lift all the weighty burdens. 
Christ the Babe comes to us in Christmas as Christ the Savior comes  to us on the Cross — seeking only our embrace.

Why do we heap expectation on ourselves the way that we do? I realize that I can't just refuse to make things festive around here. I have kids and a husband and it's not their fault that their wife and mom morphed into an exhausted, cranky Scrooge between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I'll do what I can and it will be simple-ish. But I'll swat away guilt that it's not more. More intentionality with my kids and traditions, more service to others, more scouring for savings and perfect gifts. They're all good things. That's why I want to do them.

It's the doing that's the problem. So much doing.

We call it the season of giving. We rush around giving. But it should be the season of receiving. How can we give, in any true and meaningful sense, when we sit empty? I know that I need to receive Him, Jesus, and the rest and freedom He came to give mankind.

I know this. I do. But I'm still prone to sit vacant and exhausted even though I know He offers fulness and rest.

Resting and receiving is so much harder for me than doing and striving. I can't help but wonder if He lovingly allows the weariness and apathy so that I'm forced to stop dead in my tracks, to have no alternative but to just breathe and do the basics.

It's been a tough year, draining in every sense of the word. I'm the last one to gift grace to myself, to just slow down and let my body and spirit catch up with the toll of past circumstance. 

But today I'm feeling the need to do just that. The world won't stop spinning if we fail to make Christmas cookies or if my mantle sits naked.

If in keeping Christmas, we don't keep our sanity, well, we've missed something.

Maybe you're feeling much of the same, a need for rest and recovery....a holiday of grace. 

This Christmas, I'll be the one with a tree and not much else. Pillsbury slice-and-bakes instead of homemade. Sitting on the sofa instead of scurrying around the mall. 

And you're welcome to join me.  

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