|Kindergarten Christmas party|
|KC singing Away In A Manger in the school Christmas Program|
|Blurry picture of ZJ singing in a 5th grade trio|
|RW and fellow 6th graders posing while scripture is being read|
|Gift buying completed on Christmas Eve ~ time to wrap like a fiend.|
Images of life after Christmas:
|Peaceful pink sunrise|
|Lots of X-Box gaming|
Can you feel the difference in the before and after Christmas energy? Maybe it was the result of the later Thanksgiving holiday this year but Advent came so quickly and flew by faster than usual.
Many of my friends expressed a sense of pressure and urgency this year and we agreed that it was a year to let a lot go. On the first day of vacation one of my friends lamented that she hadn't accomplished any of the fun Christmasy plans tucked into each box of her homemade Advent calendar. I agreed that I hadn't baked a single cookie or wrapped one gift at that point and that I felt very behind. The good news is that we were both ok with just letting it be as it was in that moment.
But then it occurred to me that that was the whole point of Advent anyway. Isn't it about waiting for the birth of Christ ~ not having the party prior to the arrival of the intended guest? At that moment I decided that from now on, I would think of Advent as the nesting version of preparing for a birth. I decorate the house and get things prepared - plan menus, gather recipes and supplies but the actual doing of Christmas can wait for Christmas itself.
The pressure melted away and because we had no company and didn't fly home to North Dakota this year, I was able to really enjoy the twelve days of Christmas at home. I wrapped gifts on Christmas Eve with carols blaring and coffee to spur me along. We ordered in food for Christmas Eve dinner so I didn't have to cook and went to the quieter mass on Christmas morning at 10am. Afterward, we came home and enjoyed our gifts, baked some cookies and watched some Christmas shows.
Throughout the rest of the break from school we have played hours of board games (electronic Monopoly and Wits and Wagers were gifts that were true hits), we went to movies in the theater, had playdates with friends and spent every night cuddled as a family around the twinkly tree lights.
Over the past week I have seen the lights go out in many people's windows and the dried out trees lining the street. But I look at the calendar and remind myself that Christmas is not over until January 5th - the day of Epiphany which represents the arrival of the Magi to see the Christ child. After all the preparing for the holiday it seems strange to so abruptly pack it all away before the official end of the celebration.
Luckily for us our school doesn't resume until Monday which means we can continue to feel like it is Christmas while the school buses drive by taking children back to public school. It is only natural that for so many the feeling of the holiday ended on Wednesday.
For me, leaving the decorations up through the weekend is a peaceful feeling, no rush to get back to normal, rather the ability to rest in the spirit of Christmas a little longer. Besides, we still have a few cookies to bake before the new year's resolutions kick in on Monday.
I am reminded of Joyce Meyers saying that one way to immediately increase your peace is to lower your expectations. As we look back at Christmas 2013 there are surely many ways we wish things had been different, that we had done more, made it more of an idealized holiday, but if we let go of what didn't happen and simply enjoy all that did, we can be pleased beyond measure with the fact that Christ still came for us, still reigns for us, and that there are always the twelve Days of Christmas 2014 to look forward to in just twelve short months.