The Day Before The Day Before Christmas

It’s almost here!

December has flown by — in a don’t blink or you’ll miss it sort of way.   It’s been twenty-three days of cocoa and peppermint sticks, of holiday shopping and fa-la-la-ing.   There have been Christmas craft shows, and church, and special evenings with friends.  Holiday concerts, advent candles, and school performances have pushed me ever closer to the grand excitement of Christmas Day.

The kids woke up early today, leaping from the shelter of their down comforters without any need of my customary cajoling.  Today is the last day of school before vacation begins, and they don’t want to miss it.

“It’s Christmas Eve-Eve!”

“School will be easy today – nothing but parties and our Secret Santa gift exchange!”

“This is the last day in 2014 that I’ll need to set my alarm.  I’m going to sleep in the entire holiday break!”

After the kids come home from school today, the world will begin spinning a little faster; time will pass more rapidly than it ever has before, and if there is anything not yet prepared for our Christmas festivities…well, I expect it will simply remain undone.

Are all the presents wrapped?   Did I get the stocking Stuffers?  I forgot to buy the chocolates my husband likes so much…can I find time to shop for those today?  There are still people to visit, goodies to bake, and surprises to finish assembling – how is it possible there is so much yet to be accomplished???

I am tempted to hit the ground running this morning, hair flying, and hands waving as I execute a mad dash toward the Magical Christmas That Everyone Will Always, Always Remember finish line.  And then, thankfully, I hear a voice (from inside me, or from without, I cannot tell), a voice both quiet and insistent.

It says, Stop. 

I obey the voice; I stop and I sit, and allow my thoughts to chase themselves about in spirals until they come to rest, much like a dog turning circles until it settles down to sleep.

The lights on the Christmas tree shine soft and white.  Christmas music plays quietly, although I don’t remember turning it on.  I begin to relax as the strains of Ave Maria fill the room.

I smile then, because finally I remember:  Christmas isn’t something I have to accomplish.  Christmas was accomplished – perfectly so – over two thousand years ago.  All that is left for me is to pray, and to wonder, and to worship, and to offer thanks.

Today, I will let my expectations go.  I will set all my should haves, and could haves, and supposed to dos aside.

I feel better, and happier, and lighter already, just for having decided that.

I love Christmas.  I love the tearing of wrapping paper, the candles in church, and candy canes, and Santa Claus, and the visits with family and friends, and the mayhem and excitement of Christmas morning.

But the best part of Christmas is that it reminds me that God came down to be with us, not as a rich and worldly king, but as a baby in a manger.

He came to show us Love.

If you find yourself experiencing stress from the pressure an unfinished Christmas List today, I want to tell you this:  It’s okay to not do everything.

Set your list aside.  Stop. Pray. Listen.


That’s all you need to do today, I promise.  Everything else is just sprinkles on top.