Every year in December, I enter the typical hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and all things preparing for Christmas. This year of course feels quite different though. Public events have been canceled, private gatherings limited, and gift exchanges have followed suit. There’s a sadness to this that I gave myself a solid week to grieve before turning my focus to the unexpected hidden gifts that I’ll experience for the first time in my life.

In past years, I’ve said more times than I can count, “I love seeing everyone for the Holidays, but it would be so nice to get to slow down just one year and not be constantly on the run!”  Careful what you wish for, right?  All of the cancellations this year offer us a chance to turn back to what the day is really about.  There’s no longer a need for weeks of preparing the house to be filled with guests, which also means I can cut out hours of baking, decorating, and wrapping.

“You can’t hurt Christmas, (Mr. Mayor)
because it isn’t about the gifts or the contests or the fancy lights.”
— Cindy Lou Who (The Grinch)

So what to do with all this extra time? 

  • I’m putting on some music and being selective as I decorate in a minimalistic way.
  • Transforming our house into a soft, white, welcoming place to sit in front of the fire. Bright white lights instead of the colored ones…because I need the sparkle, simplicity, and calm that can stay the whole winter.
  • Instead of scrolling Amazon for superfluous stocking stuffers, I”m searching for unconventional ways to help people who’ve been hit by the pandemic.
  •  I’ll be reading those Christmas novels that I’ve set out every year but never had time for…from underneath a down comforter with our pups curled up beside me.
  • Giving thanks for all the blessings God’s provided in years past that I took for granted….large family gatherings, huge buffets filled with every family members’ favorite treat. The fun of watching others open gifts in a round-robin style.  Listening to my daughter and nieces sing acapella afterward. Downtown live mannequin displays and Christmas events that provided the perfect romantic date night with my guy. Next year, I’ll appreciate these things all the more!

Christmas Day will also look different. Without having to hurry through gifts and rush off to family brunch, I’ll be staying in. Sipping coffee with my adult kids and enjoying our own brunch while still in pajamas.

  • Playing games and watching Christmas movies with them plus one grand-dog, while drinking hot cocoa by the fire.
  • Being “busy” enjoying a little less bustle and a lot less hustle.

“Maybe Christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”
~The Grinch

We’ll have to light our own candles as we watch the candlelight church service online this year.  But we’ll also pray together for all those whose health and finances are struggling.

One thing won’t change at all. We’ll pause to remember that Christmas night so long ago when God showed the depths of His love by spilling it onto the world in the form of a baby who would grow to offer us freedom instead of condemnation. Love instead of fear. And a relationship with Him and a God who loves us more than we can possibly get our little heads around.

“Noone should be home alone on Christmas.”
~Cindy Lou Who

Looking for a new tradition this year?  Why not try out one of these?
  • Go caroling outside of a nursing home with your small safe and healthy pocket of people to spread the love and cheer.
  • Bake a plate of cookies to drop off for the staff who’s working tirelessly to make a hard season jolly for its residents.
  • Make extra donations to local charities that are hurting.
  • Order curbside pickup from your small-town stores and restaurants that are struggling to stay open.
  • Check with a nursing home in your area to see if they’re offering adopt-a-grandparent by Zoom.
  • Hold a Christmas Eve Facebook Watch Party to watch your church service with your friends and family.

I’ve found the best way to get out of an emotional slump is to count my blessings or to brighten someone else’s day. So right now, I’m busy doing both.  What will you be doing with all that extra time?

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