A few days ago I was decorating for Christmas with one of my best friends here in Columbia. We were talking about the different ornaments on his tree, the significance and memories behind each one. As Christmas carols were playing, I was struck by the fact that each moment we have creates a memory—some significant, some not so much.
This is my first Christmas season in Columbia. I feel like a little kid taking in all their annual traditions, tree lightings, festivals, and caroling. In a few short weeks I’ll head home to spend Christmas with family.
I remember not so long ago working in my home church, running around “preparing” for Christmas. In a passing conversation with a church member, I made an off-handed comment about how I was ready for Christmas to just get here because the actual season leading up to it was so busy and stressful.
She stopped for a moment and with deep sincerity said, “Cynthia, the Christmas season is about slowing down, about waiting in anticipation of the Savior’s arrival. It’s meant to be savored.”
I didn’t think much about it that particular day. In fact, I’m sure I probably nodded my head and ran along to finish whatever impending tasks I needed to do for Sunday. By the time Christmas did arrive I was exhausted and ready to hibernate for a few days.
I wish now I would’ve grasped what she said in that moment. I think we all fall prey to a chaotic mindset this time of year:
We have to finish all our Christmas shopping.
(Spending more money than we should to make sure everyone gets what he or she wants.)
We have to make sure our house is sufficiently decorated.
(What will the neighbors think if we don’t?)
We want to make sure everything is clean, orderly, and perfect for Christmas day.
(Our family will be disappointed if we don’t have 3 different desserts to choose from.)
We forget to slow down; we get caught up in what we need to do instead of creating moments with one another.
I think Christmas isn’t just about celebrating the gift of our Savior; it’s about celebrating the gift of friends and family He’s placed in our life to share the joys and the trials. We remember those we’ve lost along the way and praise God for how they’ve impacted our lives. For me, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and reconnect with Him.
All the other stuff that accompanies Christmas can be good too. Just make sure you’re not stressing yourself out in the process. The greatest gift we can give this Christmas season is the simple act of being present and savoring each moment.
*Photo credit: Ercwttmn