Saturday, December 19, 2009

Simplify, schmimplify.

I've discovered a little truth this month. And it may be just the thing to save my sanity this Christmas -- because it's been on its way out.

The directive to "simplify Christmas" is an impossibility.

What would have made this month simpler? Well, I suppose I could have called all my friends and family in November and said, "We're not participating in the festivities this year. Please don't send us any presents, or money for the kids, or invitations to parties. Don't expect Christmas cards with updated photos of the family. Don't expect gifts from us, either. We want to avoid rushing around to get it all done.

"And by all means, don't stop by to visit without calling at least two weeks in advance."

Lately, I've been hearing the message that rushing during Advent is akin to sin, and misses the point of the season. After all, how can we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior, if we're busy checking off our lists -- and trying not to be late to church potlucks?

It's a tough one.

And so, organized types encourage us to start planning earlier, promising that if we just follow their 12-week plan, we won't feel rushed, and we'll have the happiest, most peaceful holiday ever!

Except that life doesn't follow a 12-week plan. Not everyone knows in October whether they'll be able to travel in December -- or whether they'll have custody of their kids on Christmas Day. Life requires you to adjust your plans to accommodate others' plans that you have no control over.

Life sends rainclouds over your leaky roof right before Christmas, leaving you cold and wet, and obliterating your party schedule. Life also sends your neighbor over with a spontaneous invitation to a round of wassail!

Life sends gifts from friends you love, but were too obsessed with trying to simplify to shop for -- and sends you to the last-minute sales to reciprocate.

Christmas is NOT simple. Christmas is complicated.

Was it simple for God to say, "Heck, it's a mess down there, I guess I'll just come down and clean it up myself." Well, maybe to say it. To do it? I think the New Testament shows otherwise.

Was it simple for Mary to accept Gabriel's message that she was going to be an unwed mother? Somehow, I don't think she said, "Sure, I'd be happy to carry God's son. My parents and fiance will understand. No biggie."

Was it simple for Joseph and Mary to get to Bethlehem? No, it was complicated. And they were freakin' exhausted when they got there.

I'm a little tired, too -- probably from staying up too late playing Santa while the children slept. I've checked a lot off my list. I still have to check it twice. I cannot say, "Whew, I'm totally ready for Christmas, nothing left to do except wait."

When there's nothing left to do to prepare our hearts for Christ's coming, He'll already be here.


John said...

Amanda, as I read this I'm thinking: When you write your book I will buy MANY copies. They'll make the perfect Christmas gift (of course, not last-minute)! You've perfectly described the typical Christmas life. On December 26, take a deep breath. And thank God - again - for his Son.

MamaTea said...

Nice post. Well said,'re exactly right! Christmas is NOT simple!! I'm not sure it was meant to be that way...but you stated that quite beautifully, too. :)

SmallWorld at Home said...

Absolutely love this post!

Sarah Slaven said...

Thanks I was feeling guilty about the busy rushed state I'm in at the moment.

mandi said...

yeah- you know, last night i was feeling bad about not being better about our jessie tree this year...and then i thought- 'geez, THAT'S akin to living under law'. when we feel guilty about something we should be doing, we're allowing our focus to be on our guilt. again, not on the savior.

yesterday we went ahead and celebrated our little family christmas here at home. that way it could be simple and fun and full of each other. but today we head to houston to the FOUR (that's right!) grandparent's homes. for a week of festivities and not a slow moment. but like you said, what are we supposed to say "sorry grandma, not this year, we're too busy slowing down to come see you". yeah right! the bottom line is that we really want to see we do it. even though it's hectic, and my little pregnant self may just fall on out!

merry christmas!

Anonymous said...

Well said, dear friend.

San said...

well done for encapsulating all i have been thinking.

Melinda said...

I think we just need to ask ourselves "Am I having fun? Is my family having fun?" Because if we answer 'yes' to these questions then we are doing just fine. Some folks don't enjoy a holiday season that is too rushed. Some do. Everyone needs to find their own balance, I think.

angelina said...

Much needed perspective...THANK YOU and Merry Christmas....:)

sarah in the woods said...

I think you're right. There has been much rushing around but also so much joy and love and fun. This is a celebration. It's about Jesus, and it's about love. I think it's OK to give it some extra effort. Thanks for this post.

Lynette said...

Well said! Love this post!

Stephanie said...

Happy (busy) Christmas Season to you!
And since we're so, so close...
a Very Merry Christmas.

mandy said...

This was awesome. I've been feeling not good enough because some of the people in my circle of friends talk about not doing toys with characters or only doing handmade things or whatever little hang up they have. I just don't care! We are having a blast, I'm trying to teach my kids about their savior, and we've bought a wii! We are eating cookies, making crafts, singing carols, visiting people in the nursing home... and there are no rules. The only rule is that we do what OUR family does... and not try to keep up with the Joneses! Thank you for this post. I appreciate your honesty :)

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