Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

Someone asked me this week if Christmas is "my jam."   (jam = favorite for those of you not familiar with urban slang.  I think typically it's used in reference to music, but I assumed what this person was asking was if Christmas was my favorite holiday.)

Christmas is not "my jam."  I felt guilty saying that then, and I feel guilty writing it now, where the whole world (or at least the handful of people who wander here regularly) can read it.  

I don't love Christmas.  There are too many expectations.  It's the one time in the whole year where the presents you give and the food you make are supposed to be a reflection of the depth of love you have for the people around you. There are Christmas treats to make, Christmas dinners and events to plan, caroling to coordinate with headstrong family members, special musical numbers to perfect, and way too many obligations.  I feel pressure.  I feel overwhelmed.  And 99% of the time I get to Christmas Eve and feel like I've failed miserably at letting people know how much they mean to me via presents, neighbor treats and Christmas cards.  There is always someone I've forgotten.  There is always more I could have done.  I hate that feeling.  

But here's what I thought when I pondered that question this week:  although the chaos of December is definitely not "my jam," do you know what is "my jam?"  Baby Jesus.  The Spirit of Christmas.  And the Light of Christ.  

Here are the times this month when I've felt those things especially strongly, and appreciated the Christmas season...
Watching the kids work together on this perfectly imperfect little gingerbread house that was given to us by the sweetest, most unexpected "secret Santa" who dropped presents on our doorstep for two whole weeks before Christmas.  

Sitting in the quiet, peaceful, expectation-free, stillness of Christmas morning knowing that everything I could do had already been done, and thinking about the people I love, the abundance of blessings in my life, and the way the Lord's hand has been apparent this year. 

The candlelight Christmas Eve service we attended with our neighbors, who we absolutely love, and the opportunity to feel the Spirit in a different way there.  The music was a little different.  The people were different than the ones we see in our ward each week.  The program was different.  But what was the same was the immense love of the Savior that filled the entire congregation regardless of our religion.  

Making Christmas cookies.  There are ancient George family recipes my dad made every Christmas when I was a little girl, and that I now make every Christmas.  And when I do, the smell in the kitchen reminds me of people who are not here anymore, people who I love and miss, and the best parts of my childhood Christmas memories.  
Emma's Ugly Sweater Party.  She didn't actually own an ugly sweater, so she made one.  She's so cute and creative.  I just love her.  And she's the only person I know who can blast out a last minute email and have a dozen people show up for a party.  

There are some very kind, very busy, and immensely talented people in our ward who go to great lengths to magnify their talents and the talents of the upcoming generation.  One of my favorite things this month was watching these two cute boys work for hours on Christmas music.  And while they were there, this very nice scout leader took the time to throw in a few helpful Jazz techniques that the boys will be able to use somewhere down their musical roads later in life.  I love people who do more than they are asked.

The decorations I love the most are the ones that remind me of the Savior, of the great gift He was from Heavenly Father on that night in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and of the miraculous gift He continues to be 2000 years later.  

I have come to know that every year I can probably expect to feel a little overwhelmed at some point in the holiday season, but I also know that if I take the time to be still and look, I can find immense JOY in the smallest, seemingly insignificant, unexpected sweet messages of Christmas, too.  There were lots of those this year.  

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