I’ve been trying to write for days and life has kept getting in the way, whether it’s been work or Christmas errands or this headache Christian and I keep passing back and forth. Thank God for free & convenient Covid-19 testing in Minnesota; the pandemic rages on, despite the lengthy denial speech I got from the dude delivering my spit test via Doordash last week (“I don’t believe in any of this coronavirus stuff, but I still test every week because I deliver food,” was his line that made me facepalm, hard).
We’re healthy, we’re busy winding down work for the year, and we’re also navigating a lot of tricky feelings around getting together in person with family. The holidays have never presented so many challenging scenarios to consider, some of which are literal life and death, and we’re all still expected to just busy ourselves buying presents and baking cookies?
That’s been my today and yesterday, finishing up the shopping and baking up a storm. I got grouchy over all the work this morning, wanting nothing more than to sit on my keister and watch White Christmas with a huge coffee and cookie in hand, or maybe write a few paragraphs for my book with a nice heating pad on my back; instead I was scheduled to bake all day with Lola, and to host a couple of her friends for a cookie decorating party in the afternoon. There are still presents to wrap, a few plans to firm up, and there’s a big box of unaddressed Christmas cards sitting on the kitchen table calling my name, taunting me to get them all in the mail. I want to tear them up instead!
Grouchy might have been an understatement.
The day had hardly begun and I was already feeling so guilty for not being more enthusiastic about all of this.
Shouldn’t I be overflowing with joy and patience and peace, isn’t it the season for all of those things? Shouldn’t I be so grateful, so faithful, because Christmas? Isn’t this (to quote Kevin’s mom in Home Alone 2) “the season of perpetual hope”? Then why am I so tired?
Because all of this, while wonderful, is extra, not required. And none of it has anything to do with Jesus.
Sure, gifting to our friends and loved ones is a way to share in the generosity of the season, knowing God gave us the most perfect gift of His presence in the birth of Jesus. Making treats and preparing to celebrate with family reminds us of how sweet it is to be loved and accepted into the family of God. But when I read my bible, I see no mandates to celebrate the birth of our savior.
I see no requirements for how to roll out sugar cookies, whether to use royal icing or buttercream, or what exactly to serve for Christmas dinner. What I do see is across the pages of scripture is a story of a people who were loved and led by God; a people from whom came to us, the rest of humanity, a Messiah, God delivered like a gift as a little human baby, here to dwell with us and ultimately, to save the world.
His law is love, and his gospel is peace.
As I opened my bible this morning, already overwhelmed at the onset of a new day, I discovered today’s reading to be the words of our savior king in Matthew 11:28-30, a favorite:
My heart softened when I remembered none of this stuff is a have-to, it’s all stuff I get to do for the people I love, because Christmas is a gift from God to the people He loves — and I get to do all of it with Jesus.
Besides God’s presence, God’s perspective might be my favorite gift.
So as I went about the day I tried not to rush or panic. The cookies weren’t quite done yet when Lola’s friends arrived to decorate, so they offered to make the frosting themselves (and they did a great job!). Every cookie was decorated, and all the errands done (thanks to my hot husband for his help with whatever makes my life easier!). And as I shoved bites of broken cookies into my mouth in between pulling batches of fresh ones from the oven, I remembered it’s so sweet the way life unfolds so naturally, how easy it becomes if we let it be.
Lola even commented later that the baking was “fun this year”.
His yoke is easy.
There are still a couple gifts to wrap, and the cards are still in that box on the table; TBD if I’ll address them or just hand them out in person as I see the people I love, well into the new year. I don’t think it really matters all that much, because the intention’s the same.
Showing people we love them doesn’t need to be confined within a specific season, anyway.
His burden is so light.
Later, I’m in my email when I see a new writing class (free) from Hope Writers: When You Don’t Have Time To Write (uh, timely). The course description jumpstarts my heart:
“Some seasons of life are for writing, and some are not. Non-writing seasons allow for life to speak to us; it’s our job to listen.”
Life is speaking, even now.
I mouth a silent thanks to God, vowing to listen for the rest of the year.
And when the stars align and I have the time (even if it’s in 2022), I know the words will come — and this blog will be here. Just like those unaddressed Christmas cards!
Until then, may God help us all to celebrate the birth of our Savior from a place of REST.
Merry Christmas, friends. May the truth of God’s love be evident in our hearts as we accept Christ’s easy yoke and lighter burden this holiday season.
I’m so grateful to you for reading!