In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. Isaiah 30:15
In the not so distant past, I would have been maxed out by now. Maxed out on the credit card, on the amount of decorations bulging from every available space, on the calendar, places to go and people to see. Maxed out in my body. Maxed out in my spirit. Though I love Christmas, the music, the lights, the decorations, by now, I would be weary. Ready to take down the multiple trees filling my house. Ready for the company to go. It was not uncommon that by Christmas evening, I would be lying on the couch in tears. Maxed out. More than I could take. This year is different for a variety of reasons. Not because I am so wise and finally realized how being maxed out makes me feel, but because circumstances dictate that I change. As we inch closer and closer to retirement, I am forced to think more carefully about how I spend, what I spend it on and whether I truly need it. I have not completely learned that lesson, often letting my emotions overtake my wallet, but I at least recognize my mistakes, sometimes, in time to stop before overspending. Christmas is leaner this year. We are focused on giving the gifts of experiences and time rather than junk. My hand, still encapsulated in a brace has forced me to ask for help. I can’t clean, wrap packages, bake, or even write Christmas cards. If I decide that it is important enough to continue the tradition, I ask Glen to help. He wrapped presents and baked cookies, but we decided not to send cards. We are having a store bought ham instead of turkey for Christmas dinner. We. Amazing how good it feels not to have the whole burden of making spirits bright on my shoulders. Decorating was even more streamlined than usual. Although I downsized Christmas years ago, this year, we did not put up outside lights. I still feel a touch of sorrow when I see the neighbors’ houses. We may rethink that decision next year, but for this year, it was best. Although we accepted a few invitations to go out, we have either stayed at home or invited friends to visit. I have had time to sit in my chair and listen to Christmas music. And while the dust settles at my feet, I am content. I feel stronger, happier and more at peace than in years past, proving that the Spirit of Christmas is not found in the busyness, in the giving, in the decorations or even, in the celebration. The Spirit of Christmas is found in the quiet. Just as it was in the fields outside of Bethlehem when angels startled a group of shepherds. When a star blazed the path for wisemen. When a baby’s cry pierced the sound of farm animals jockeying for position in the stable. Because you can’t hear the Spirit of Christmas when your head and heart are full of responsibility and urgency.