I usually start my holiday shopping in September. I start thinking of presents in July. I have my decorations out before Thanksgiving. I prep myself perfectly to just have a restful holiday and not get sucked into the overwhelming, oh-my-gosh-it’s-Christmas-and-I-didn’t-do-this-and-this-and-this.
Instead, this year, I got super sick and had my gallbladder out, while trying to work full time and go to school. #brilliantplan
So, here we are, six days from Christmas. One day from one sister arriving, four days from another. Five days from my brother-in-laws family being here. I still haven’t finished half my handmade presents. I haven’t even gotten the stuff to make my dads present.
I took a walk on my lunch break today and I thought about feeling overwhelmed and I looked at the snow. I remembered the year my mother went to Chicago and broke both her feet slipping on ice on some stairs. She was there because my sister had a life-saving surgery. Three days later, my paternal grandmother died and two days after that my uncle. My mom came back to south Florida, my father went to Chicago. He and my sister were together for that Christmas in Chicago. The rest of us were in South Florida. It felt so strange.
I can remember in the middle of the night during that time, getting out of bed and finding my mother at the kitchen table, wringing her hands. We talked.
I am not of any organized faith, though I would say that my faith in certain things is incredibly strong. My mother is a very strongly and quietly Christian and many of our conversations are rooted in understanding the others faith. I told her that night, ‘Luke 2:19, momma. “But Mary gathered up all of these things and pondered them in her heart.”‘
When the shepherds and wise men and angels come to the manger and praise the newborn baby Christ, Mary takes it all in. A new mother, surrounded by strangers, with her baby sleeping, away from home. She gathers it all up and feels it.
Isn’t that a lesson for all of us?
And so inside of the rush and traffic and birthday parties and holiday parties and calls from far away friends, I’m trying to sneak moments where I gather them all up and ponder them in my heart, even the feeling of chaos. How lucky am I to love so many people that I choose to spend my time finding them the perfect gift? What fortune is in my life that I get to see my siblings during the year? How honest I have grown with myself that I can feel frustration and give it a name?
It’s easy to forgot, or to shame oneself for getting caught in the present rush. It makes it feel much less like a rush when you’re able to be grateful for the work that lets you buy the presents, despite the traffic.
Luke 2:19. It’s not just for Christmas.