Thanksgiving is Thursday. The holiday season is officially upon us. It’s been looming since early October when the stores pushed all the Halloween decorations to the clearance shelves and glittered up their aisles with red and green….well, everything…even candy corn and marshmallow snowpeeps?? I have done all I can to ignore it. I am traditionally a “no-Christmas-until-we-have-celebrated-Thanksgiving” kind of girl. I even panicked in the car this weekend when Steve zipped through radio stations and we heard a few chords of a familiar carol. “SHUT IT OFF!”
But today…I broke the rules.
Last night I was doing the dishes amidst total chaos. A wonderful, yet often exhausting, chaos ascended upon our household this fall. Henry is in school now and I think we forgot how much work it is to have a kindergartener. They have homework. Real homework…and they can’t read…so you have to read…but they desperately want to read…so you have to remember exactly what words they can read. It’s maddening for both the parents and the child. We have recently celebrated Steve’s graduation and the beginning of his new career. I was also blessed with a new job in August. Matthew has become a member of the local swim team which requires a significant commitment. All of this has turned our family calendar completely upside down in the very best of ways…but we are still in the “figuring it all out” phase. We have only completely forgotten to be home for the school bus once – thankfully we have awesome neighbors.
As I was clearing the dinner dishes last night my brain went in to overdrive. Do you have those moments when suddenly every little thing you need to get done in the weeks ahead comes blasting into your thoughts all at once? Your heart starts beating fast and your breathing pattern changes? That’s what happened to me. “How am I going to fit it all in? How am I going to be here when I need to be there? When am I going to get that exam written? How are we going to pay for that? Are we ever going to get this house cleaned up? “…I could keep going…but here’s what made me stop in my tracks…“And now we have to figure out the holidays on top of all of this? We have to put up the tree?” Yep. I went there. I was feeling overwhelmed.
About 3 minutes later a funny thing happened. We have an abundance of “clippy” magnets on our fridge. They accumulate coupons I never use, random notes and receipts I can never find when I need them, and the occasional picture. I was frantically searching the fridge for a lost recipe when one of the clips fell on the floor. I retrieved it and realized it held, right on top, the notes I took in church last Christmas Eve. Eleven months ago in hot pink ink I had circled “Luke 2:10-11” and beneath it I had written: “Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.” GOOD NEWS. (I had these words underlined.) GREAT JOY. (I had these words DOUBLE underlined…as if I knew later I would need the reminder.) Interesting. I don’t believe in coincidences.
So today I broke the rules. I started by bravely streaming some Christmas music in my office at work. An hour later I decided to try out my new USB powered light-up tree and put it RIGHT NEXT to my solar powered turkey! Crazy, right??? Yep, three whole days ahead of schedule. I am making a conscious decision to be joyful throughout this holiday season. I am choosing joy and I am starting right now. I want to let go of 2013 and usher in the New Year without ever forgetting how broken, and scared, and thankful and joyful I have felt this year.
Steve is okay. Our family is still whole. I am choosing joy. We have comfortable home. I am choosing joy. My kids have warm beds, coats and shoes. I am choosing joy. We have food on the table every night. I am choosing joy. We have friends and family who love and support us. I am choosing joy. I believe in a God who made an unthinkable sacrifice to save me from myself. I am choosing joy.
Everything else that the holiday brings is a “bonus.” If the holiday traffic gets to me, I can stay home. If the lines at Wal-Mart are 20 people deep and there are only two lanes open, I can leave. I am choosing joy. These years pass quickly. This is the only Christmas that Matthew will be eight and Henry will be six. Our circumstances may be drastically different next year than they are today. We have every reason to be joyful. We can trim trees, visit, bake cookies and light yummy candles. We can play games, laugh and make memories. Yep, the holiday season is upon us. That’s good news, isn’t it?