If Starbuck’s has their pumpkin spice lattes on the menu, Christmas can’t be too far around the corner, right? Witness this stack of boxes stashed out of the way at my local Sbux store. (The blurred print on the label says, “Open after November 1st”.)
My mailbox is stuffed to overflowing three times a week with ads for shiny new toys, computers, cars, clothing, Barbie Dolls…. the list goes on and on. The big box office store is selling all manner of Christmas stationery, labels and envelopes so one can write and print holiday greeting cards or letters. The Hallmark Channel starts their “Countdown to Christmas” tomorrow and Target has Christmas ornaments next to the Halloween costumes. Blergh.
We can’t slow down the rate of retail madness everywhere we turn, nor can we get Starbuck’s to hide their Christmas “No Peeking” boxes. But we can make very simple choices to change our minds and hearts, even a teensy bit, to make room for remembering what the coming celebration is all about–allowing space for God’s presence in our lives.
Simple Idea Number 1 for slowing down the holiday season (object lesson ahead):
When I wrote my book last year about how to reclaim Christmas and live the season well, I included this idea of planting an amaryllis bulb.
I always wait too long to get mine and it usually blooms after the first of the year rather than at Christmas. More like an Epiphany bloom, I guess.
I told myself t h i s year I’d start looking for them around Halloween time and lo and behold, my local grocery store put them on the shelves just last week.
Planting an amaryllis and watching it s l o w l y come to life can be a teensy step towards refocusing (for a nanosecond, maybe) on anticipation rather than immediate reward. This can also provide a way to talk to your family about Advent–the Christian season of waiting–for our Saviour to be born.
The season of Christmas, especially when there are children involved, often becomes a time of intense anticipation about The One Day of All the Presents. Even with a daily Advent calendar it can be a set up for disappointment. Why? What happens the day AFTER Christmas? (You’ll want my little red & white book to find out, because there’s more. Really.)
What we really need, whether we can verbalize it or not, is the presence of God, which is the meaning Christmas, that He came to be with us for all our days.
Whether you have children or grandchildren or no children, there’s a lesson in patience and waiting for the bright red bloom to emerge from an unassuming pot of soil. Watching a promising spear of even the tiniest green can provide a way to slow down & make room for a simple practice of saying, “Come, Lord Jesus. We are waiting for you.”
Simple Idea Number 2 for slowing down: Speaking of Presence
I don’t know about you, but I am often not present with the actual people or circumstances in my own life. What do I mean? I can be physically standing in a room, engaged in conversation and my mind could be miles away, thinking about tomorrow. Thinking about yesterday.
I’ve realized far too many times, whether I’m at the kitchen sink, standing in line at the grocery store or dusting my furniture for the millionth time, that I’m often wishing I was somewhere else. I’m dreaming of a string of somedays–in the future–when life will be…. better? different? more exciting? When I’ll be happier? Whatever or wherever the somewhere else is, I’m not here.
When I choose to ignore rather than embrace the God-who-is-with-me-now–no matter where I am–I lose the power and meaning of the moment. And I miss what He might have to say to me (or through me) in the middle of the housework or the grocery store or talking with the barista while I’m in line at Starbuck’s. Because I’m too busy to listen. Blergh again.
If you relate to this conundrum, you might like an invitation to lean into God’s presence with this 4-week audio series from my friend Michelle DeRusha.
Michelle was one of the endorsers of my book Living the Season Well (I write about her in the Christmas chapter) and we are on the same wavelength about reclaiming the craziness of the Christmas holidays. The timing of this series is perfect.
Michelle’s audio journey “Practicing Presence” begins on October 28th and you can sign up here. It’s free of course. Each installment of the four weeks is only about 10 minutes, just enough to give you some food for thought and stir you towards listening to your every day life.
To whet your appetite, here’s an audio clip.
Simple Idea Number 3 for Slowing Down: Buy my book for yourself (or a young family who is overwhelmed by the idea of All Those Presents).
Perhaps you’ve already gathered this from my thinly disguised mentions that I wrote Living the Season Well-Reclaiming Christmas to help families slow down and savor the holidays. My intent was to introduce my #clueless Evangelical peers to the liturgies and traditions of the church calendar, weaving in the entire arc of the Christmas season from November to January. I am learning that Christmas is more than just one day.
Why should you consider Living the Season Well? LTSW is full of practical ideas, stories and inspiration to help you discover how to slow down the season of Christmas, even if it’s only a beginning in your own heart. Thinking becomes actions over time, yes?
Start small. Start Now.
Signed copies of Living the Season Well are available from me for only $10 (incl. tax & shipping). You can use this secure contact form below to leave your information and I’ll be in touch about payment via PayPal or check. Or you can check out these links on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books a Million.
I’d be ever so grateful if you’d share this post, especially with those who might like the invitation to slow down the season. Just click a sharing button below this post. Bless you.