Gather Near

Oh…hello again. Are you still there? After the end of the semester and finals raining down like acid fire around me, I have seemingly ended up in a pile of primordial sludge floating this way and that.

In my feeble attempt not to repeat last year’s Scooge-fest, I’ve been valiantly fighting the post-semester crash to make sure this Christmas season is the merri-est and the bright-est. In the hustle and bustle I’ve seemed to come down with the “I gotta do it all or thou whilst be judged by all” syndrome.

I read an interesting article the other day about the resurgence of homemaking, and then a follow up article on judgment on mothers who aren’t taking part in the holistic food movement and serve their kids Oreos as snacks after school, often hearing “Unclean! Unclean!” in their heads as other mothers serve fresh ground wheat bread and carrot sticks.

I’d like to transpose this leperous concept to my Christmas season. I spin myself so tightly making sure I do it all. Send cards, buy the perfect present, make the best meals, decorate the best, celebrate the hardest and look the prettiest. In essence, I’m a brunette version of the crazy Target lady on the Black Friday commercials. If I fail at any of this, I hear my head yelling “unclean!” I even am guilty of trying to out-Christian others. Praying harder or looking more church-y.

What ends up happening is this. For the last few years, I’ve spiraled down into sickness during the holiday season, effectively ending my Miss Christmas of the Year campaign. Leaving me tired, cranky and emotional. Poor Jason.

But when I sit down to think about it. All I really want to do is spend time with my family and friends. In whatever setting, no matter the meal, no matter the deocrations, I just want to be with those we don’t get to see often, or those we do see often and can’t get enough of. What I often fail to realize is, the people I want to spend the most time with, I can guarantee you, will not judge me if they don’t get my Christmas card or I don’t offer ooey gooey brownies at supper club, or even if I don’t give them the most extravagant gift.

I’ve never celebrated an Advent calendar before, but I’ve been reading a lot about them and want to start this tradition next year. It seems to be the perfect way to slow down, focus on Christ’s birth and enjoy small moments in each day. It allows you to strip away the judgment, the anxiety and the busyness to be still and know.