Christmastime smells different to me. It’s in the air (yes, even Southern Californian air.) I can feel the change and I’m not referring to constant LEXUS car commercials, frenzied mall shopping, or holiday tunes in mid-October.
From the last day of November until fireworks usher in the New Year, our family finds itself truly living in the glow of the season. I like to believe that it is just as wonderful as I imagine it in my mind, and it certainly is, but this is only because I actively set aside the normal and embrace the magical. The light-filled month of December is our true homage to life-giving truth and love. Feeling the warmth of the Christ-child and His birth. Knowing that all of life can be a bit muddled but inside our hearts and home, there is space. Rest.
My girls (and I) pack away the more vigorous aspects of homeschool – notebooks and science experiments are placed on a shelf and replaced with the finer things in life. There are moments that I wonder why we don’t park in this space for an entire year but I then reflect on the value of this season. How it deserves to be placed a bit higher. Reverence. Time allotted to breath, peacefully reflect and quietly learn.
If this all sounds a bit emotionally and nostalgically charged, it’s because it is. This month has become sacred in our house – the girls know that it won’t be filled with calendars and daily routines. No assignment lists or checked boxes. As a creature who thrives on rhythm and order, December is the time when I breath a sigh of relief and allow time to run away from me. No grand expectations or requirements. I want this month to be rife with tranquility and (as we have been working toward a new family culture) the last few years definitely have granted us rest and warmed souls. While the world outside speaks of stress and anxiousness – booked evenings and overspending, I relish in this time with my girls and husband. We intentionally keep our days clear and allow them to organically fill. It takes work but it is a worthy investment. When the moments of wonder come and overtake us with awe, we are ready. We don’t miss it.
Tangibly speaking, we transform our normal routines and clean house. We fill our home with books which reflect the season. We slowly rise and linger more at the table, speaking of the weather (although often it changes to the weather somewhere else, as SoCal weather is pretty basic during December) and eating really, really rich and heartwarming food. It certainly isn’t a strict time of moderation, but rather savoring very good things – because we have time to appreciate them, without rushing. A fire is constantly roaring, whether outside or in and allows hours of inviting friends in, cooking and baking. Long walks through our neighborhood, although often treaded, take on completely invigorating scenery. I take a term-long break from my normal schoolwork, forsaking the studies towards my masters degree for a 6 week term in paper crafts, baking cookies and glitter glue. Writing a letter that has been due. Sitting longer and not feeding the urge to jump up and do do do. Basking in the good and hard memories of years past – allowing room for the Lord to heal and bring about renewal.
All of these things are possible. If only we hand over our busy inclinations and remain.
So, I wait. I bake pumpkin bread and cook a turkey and feel extremely thankful. I enjoy the month of November because it’s more time the Lord has granted me with my girls, my friends and my husband.
But I wait. And I wait.
Because the season of peace is almost upon us.
If this all seems rather whimsical, it really isn’t……It’s simply a call to give the best part of you to the season of Christmas, rather than allow the commercialization of December to eat your alive. I encourage you to carve out days, weeks and moments this upcoming season to dedicate to filling your soul with promises from the Lord and His truth, goodness and salvation. It’s not as intensive as it may seem. It’s a gift the Lord offers each of us.
Bring a basket into your living room and fill it to the brim with books that bring families together such as this advent, these short stories, or my personal favorite Christmas book (which can be read all year long.) Read whenever it comes to you, without regard to time (well, I mean, you have to feed your children and stuff.)
Wrap yourself in a blanket and sit with your kids. Light a candle, turn on a beautiful Pandora station (Christmas hymns station is our go to) and play a game or two. Bake. Play cards with your kids and light a fire. Make something simple for your neighbors and give yourself time to walk over to their homes and actually talk with them. Take all the opportunities to serve at your church and in your community (and easy way to serve others that I’m sure your church is doing also.) The season is hard for many people – give your time and resources to others. Come home and talk with your children about it. Create a culture of giving and inviting. Sing Christmas hymns over bacon and cinnamon rolls. Watch a movie as a family. Work on forgiveness, even when it takes time and is especially painful. Call someone who you struggle with – someone who doesn’t deserve it.
Sit and bask in your tree, advent, Bible. Allow the season to slowly wash over you and keep the Lord locked in your vision and in your heart. Give Him this season in the small ways and He will hand it back to you in the largest way possible.
Be still and know. Submerge in the glow, peace and comfort of Christ.