As I said yesterday, the holiday season has arrived. We are all busy with decorating, parties, shopping, cleaning, baking, wrapping, traveling, and so much more. It is easy to get overwhelmed this time of year and lose sight of what is really important. I know I struggle to keep myself together every year at this time. We have the addition of competition season for both girls beginning at the same time, which makes things even more complicated. Those feelings of stress and anxiety begin to creep in for me as soon as Thanksgiving is over, and they can easily get out of control if I am not careful. I swear that as soon as December 1 hit, I had this sudden feeling of dread and anxiety. I recognized it right away because it happens every year. I start to get frantic and am constantly making to-do lists in my head at night and in my phone all day long. As I am typing this, I have stopped 3 times already to add something to my list. To say I am distracted is an understatement. I worry that I will forget something. I feel my shoulders tensing and the exhaustion already setting it. It is crazy. This is supposed to be the most magical time of the year, but many of us don’t allow ourselves to feel that magic. Instead we feel the anxiety, stress, and dread. We let the small, petty things and the hustle and bustle steal that magic. We forget what this season is really about. It is supposed to be about giving, love, happiness, togetherness, and the miracle of Jesus. It is not about making the perfect meal, choosing the perfect gift, or how clean your house is; yet that is what we often turn it into. Our priorities are all in the wrong place. I am totally guilty of this myself. It is hard to focus on the true meaning of Christmas when you are checking things off a to-do list.
I was reminded of my need to slow down, stop stressing, and enjoy the little moments this past weekend on two separate occassions. The first came as we were eating lunch after doing some shopping on Black Friday. I was stressing over all the presents that we still needed to buy, when I got a picture from my mom of an ornament that belonged to my grandmother who passed away this past summer. It is an angel with my name engraved on it. It was the ornament that she always hung at the top of her Christmas tree. It was why she always referred to me as the angel on top of her tree. When my parents were going through her things after she passed, that was the one thing that I asked to have. Unfortunately, at the time, they couldn’t find it. We thought that it had been lost in the fire that she had last year that destroyed much of her home. It broke my heart to think that it was lost forever. When I got the photo from my mom that my aunt had found it, I started to cry right there in the restaurant. I cannot tell you how much seeing that ornament meant to me. It brought back so many memories. I am tearing up typing this right now. It reminded me that life comes to end for all of us at some point and that we need to cherish every minute that we have here on this Earth with the ones we love. It reminded me that I need to stop stressing about stupid things and just enjoy the magic of the season with the people I love.
The second incident happened as the girls and I were decorating the tree on Sunday. Our tree is not one of those that you would find in a magazine. It doesn’t match. It is a hodgepodge of ornaments that don’t go together, but it is filled with memories and love. One thing my husband and I started when we got married was getting a new ornament every time we went on a trip. It was to be a reminder of a time when we were together and having fun. This tradition has continued for the almost 20 years we have been married. The whole family enjoys looking for that one ornament to represent our travels every single time. Our tree is full of not only these ornaments but also of all of the ornaments my kids have made over the years. There are so many with their pictures on them from when they were much younger. They beg me not to put those on the tree, but I hang them front and center because they are my favorites (as you can see, they moved most of them to the back when I wasn’t looking). My husband and I also have several ornaments that we hang that are from our childhood. Some are ones that we made as kids or that were given to us or that belonged to our grandparents. Each of the ornaments on our tree means something to us. As we hang each one, we are reminded of a memory…a memory that brought joy. This year I also added some of our beautiful Trades of Hope ornaments to remind me that there are women out there who are suffering and need a little magic in their lives. Our tree is truly special to us.
Going through all of those ornaments while laughing with the girls and looking at the picture of an ornament as old as I am that belonged to my grandmother really reminded me of what Christmas is all about. It brought the magic back to the forefront of my heart. I want more moments like that this year. I want to put my to-do lists to the side and just be present. I want to laugh hard, love hard, and enjoy the time with family and friends. Most of all, though, I want to remember. I want to remember Christmases past. I want to remember the loved ones we have lost. I want to remember to pray for those women who count on me and my partners to show up for them every day so they can change their lives. I want to remember that Jesus came that Christmas morning long ago to die for my sins. I want to remember the magic of Christmas, and I want to experience it all with those that I love. I encourage you to do the same. Put down the lists, stop fretting over presents and baking, and enjoy the little moments. Those are the memories you will have for a lifetime.
Anchored and Remembering,