I had a hard time letting go of Christmas. And I’m having to talk myself into facing the new year.
As I sat in Christmas Eve service, in the very back because we are always, always late, I had a view of the entire sanctuary full of fellow human beings, singing hymns I’ve known since before I could sing along. My back row seat forced perspective on the experience. Our inability to arrive on time was good for once. This familiar, happy tradition was working it’s magic on me. There was no place I would have rather been. Even Hawaii. It was warm, the lights were low, the excitement of present giving and getting was in the air. But beyond all of the comfort of tradition, beyond the good feelings floating around the room, this was a solemn celebration of something greater. Of the very hook on which my life hangs. The fact that I got to share it with others who agree was sweet icing on the cake. This was what all the hype is about.
Then Christmas Day – the intense joy of giving my family gifts they will love. One of my favorite ways to spend a morning. Then good food with my people. Remembering who made any and all of his possible. Just. The. Best.
And after all the anticipation, the preparations, the world lit up with twinkly lights in shared revelry – it was over. The let-down, for me, was heavy. “Only 87 days until Easter,” Luke said cheerily a few days later. Which fell with a thud on my heart. I saw the expanse of cold, dreary winter before me and wanted to get in bed.
Not surprisingly, as soon as the Christmas decorations were put away and I had turned to face the next few months, my desire to travel kicked in. It always does this time of year. The internet conspires and sends emails about all the trips I can get – to Europe and the Carribbean and Mexico – for a steal right now. Clicking on them and scrolling endlessly while I should be folding laundry is my addicted response. It’s hard to decipher how much of the this is a good, natural longing to explore and how much is me trying to escape reality – the source of all addiction, though travel is less detrimental to my health than others I could choose. Marc does not have this addiction/virus/inborn personality trait, so he can’t relate. And he gave me a taste of my own medicine the other day – one of those times when your spouse tells you something you don’t like, to which you react poorly but later realize was wise and worth taking to heart. He reminded me of the strategy of self-talk. I preach this all the time. Reminding yourself of what is true – in this case that we have a great family, a lovely home in which to spend time, that winter doesn’t last forever, that life isn’t only about excitement and things to anticipate. Yep. All true. He was right.
So, I’m taking my own advice. I’m telling myself what I need to hear to move into these next few months of wintery blah with, hopefully, contentment. Maybe even happiness. And I’m going to remind myself that the hook on which my life hangs doesn’t disappear when the twinkly lights are packed away. The fanfare is gone – the everywhere and communal reminders aren’t present to help me – but these are the moments of truth. The regular, everyday days that are full of smaller, less flashy hopes and joys. When you have to look harder for them. In the way your kids play a board game and giggle and grow a touch closer. In the blessed warmth of long underwear and good slippers. In your four-year-old’s desire to nuzzle noses. In hot green tea and a scone, in your husband’s blue eyes, in a God who is not fickle like you. In a new year to start small. To go back to the basics and let that be enough.
So here’s to a new year and all it will be – big and small, flashy and simple, amazing and ordinary. And the ability to appreciate every bit.