Too much Christmas. That’s what I named Christmas 2016. I’m still recovering from the too-muchness.
Too much shopping.
Too much planning.
Too much decorating.
Too much anxiety.
Too much food and drink.
Too much wrapping.
Too much unwrapping.
Too much clutter.
Too much, too much, too much!
I consider myself a contemplative. The definition of the word contemplative in Your Dictionary is “Being deep in thought or meditation.” I am much more drawn to the spiritual life than to planning, shopping, decorating and acquiring.
But something happens to me in December. An all-together different personality emerges. It probably stems from my childhood, when my dad was never happier than when my siblings and I found mounds of gifts under the Christmas tree; when the living room was littered with torn wrapping paper, ripped tissue paper and colorful ribbons; when each kid had a stack of gifts—each one exactly what they had wished for.
And so, after Thanksgiving, I make lists, I shop, I wrap. I worry whether I bought the right gifts for the right people. I especially agonize over what to buy my kids, even though they’re all grown now.
For many years I tried to tone down the volume of Christmas because of our youngest son's autism. But as Joel has aged, planned chaos has gotten a little easier for him. For the past five years or so, I've let myself get a little more carried away. This year? To heck with autism! I went over the top.
This year, our family room looked like a tornado had ripped through it after the gifts were opened. It seemed to go on-and-on, the gift-opening. Mainly because I was the one who had bought too many gifts. By the time we sat down for brunch we were exhausted.
On December 26 I had a massive Christmas hang-over. I was regretful at my excess. I was thirsty for things of the spirit. I was exhausted from spending a full month on things that don’t, in the end, make me or anyone else happy.
Did you know that Christmas is actually a 12 day celebration in the liturgical calendar? In my favorite devotional book, Seeking God's Face: Praying with the Bible Through the Year by Philip Reinders, I read:
“The Twelve-day Christmas season, beginning on Christmas Day, may be the healing remedy needed to reclaim this holiday from merchants and marketers. After all the annoying ads and repetitive jingles fade, when everyone else is burned out on Christmas or has moved on to year-end reviews or gym memberships, now the follower of Jesus can focus on the meaning of the Christmas miracle.
It’s a season of light in darkness, where we are taken deeper into the growing light of the Word made flesh. Reflecting on the birth of Jesus, we have time to delight in the how of incarnation as we’re also led into deeper wonder of its meaning for our world.”
Aaaahhh. Just re-reading this fills me with peace and calm.
Thankfully, I can have more Christmas without it being too much Christmas! I can celebrate Christmas for 12 whole days, lighting candles when it turns dark so early in the evening. Sitting with my husband for a few minutes in the morning, meditating on the Scriptures in Seeking God’s Face. Holding my new grandson, Jaxon, and marveling that God came to us in this very form—a new born baby! Miracle of miracles! Spending time in Lectio Divina with dear friends. Thanking God for my family and all of our blessings, knowing that the Perfect Gift has already been given us.
I’d say, Just Right.
Happy New Year!