Today, my list is long. Yet, here I am. Sitting at the island. Doing something I love to do, because it brings my heart joy.
This time of year I find myself so easily bogged down by my list. The should-dos and to-dos and need-to-dos and must-dos. It can be overwhelming, really.
When I think about Christmas, I realize all of those things on my list can be distracting. If I’m not careful, they can keep me from remembering the Why. The Reason.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As I sit here, reflecting, fingers flying on the keyboard from letter to letter – I am asking myself questions. Challenging myself to keep Him at the center of the preparations. Challenging myself to keep Him at the forefront of the celebration. Challenging myself to not get lost in the tasks, or stuck in the motion of the familiar Christmas rituals.
Am I habitually doing the same things I do every year just because it is what I believe I should be doing? Do I do this stuff because I think it is what this season demands of me? Do I see Jesus in each of these acts?
Do I thank Him for the gifts I am wrapping? Even more so, for the recipients of these gifts? The family. Friends. Teachers. The bus driver. Mailman. The ladies at MOPS. The friends and classmates participating in Secret Santa exchanges.
These people. These beautiful, wonderful people are gifts. Do I remember this? Or are they simply becoming a line written of one of my many lists? Do I stop and give thanks for their presence in my life? Am I taking time to express gratitude for the love they show me and my family?
What a privilege it is to have people to buy gifts for.
What a privilege it is to a have a family I call my own.
Do I thank Him for the cookies we are baking? For the time spent together in the kitchen, gathered around the island, selecting our shapes and mixing our colors? Sprinkles and red hots in abundance. Enough frosting for the cookies and then some for licking off fingers and bowls. Am I taking the time to thank Him for this? Do I realize what a gift it is to be able to put food on our table daily? Do I thank Him for the privilege of baking cookies each and every year?
Do I thank Him for the home decorated from top to bottom? For the lights and the garland and the wreaths? For the tree adorned in ornaments from years past reminding us of milestones, vacations and small handprints that are getting bigger with each passing year? Reminders of a time of year that is festive. That is fun. That is to be celebrated. What a privilege it is to be surrounded by such beauty.
Even more so, do I thank Him for the roof over my head? That I have a place to call home and that I do not wonder where my husband, my children and I will sleep tonight or tomorrow or the next night. That I am kept warm from the cold and do not worry if we have enough blankets or a place to rest our heads. That I merely flip a switch for fire. What a privilege it is to have a home at all.
Do I thank Him for the Christmas cards that I send and the ones I receive? The reminders of family and friends – some close and some far. The images of familiar faces, people we love who have taken the time to send us Christmas cheer. When the kids come home and run to the mailbox to see what cards have come and as the envelopes are torn open and cards are taped to the doorframe – do I remember what a privilege it is to be surrounded by so much love?
Do I thank Him for the endless number of activities we are able to participate in? The tree lightings, Christmas parties, ballets and performances, choir concerts and more. What a privilege it is to have cars we can drive to and from these events. To have money for tickets and time to sit and watch and be entertained. To have such wonderful schools where the children are taught by teachers who love them. To have electricity to power the lights strung on rooftops and trees and bushes. What a luxury.
I wish I could say I stop and remember to thank Him for all of this, but so often I don’t. It can so easily be taken for granted. It can quickly go from blessing to something stress-inducing that must be checked off the list.
I am guilty of this. Constantly.
I look at the calendar. Count down the days and begin to make a mental list of all that is left to do.
Sometimes I look at the number. 15. 14. 13. 12. And begin to feel a little panic. How will it all get done?
What if it doesn’t?
I am challenging myself in this moment to stop looking at this from the perspective of must-do and instead see it all as a beautiful, wonderful gift.
Oh what a privilege it is to have so much to do. How much I would miss it if it weren’t a part of my life.
And the biggest privilege of all? I can worship Jesus freely in my home. I can remember He was born – to die. The ultimate sacrifice. The ultimate gift.
He is everything. The rest is just icing on the cake.
As I prepare for the best Birthday party ever, may I remember the Why. The Reason. The Privilege. The Joy. The Ultimate Gift.
His Birth. His Life.
Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thank you for letting us take part in the celebration. May it not become something that just needs to be checked off my list.
May I remember the Why. May I remember the Reason. May I rest in your presence.