I wonder how many of us can recite “The Night Before Christmas”? We have heard the rhyme so many times and can probably sing the song – maybe not get all the way through it, but recite a good portion of it anyway. One of my favorite lines has always been “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” I think it is my favorite line because it is so opposite my own Christmas experiences.
The night before Christmas and, in fact, the week surrounding Christmas, are always packed full of stuff. Finishing the cookies. Getting the last Christmas cards in the mail. Buying presents. Wrapping presents. Going to the grocery store. Going to the grocery store again for the stuff you realized you forgot on the list the first time. Running to the grocery store for one more thing! People in and out. Trying to get to all the Christmas events that have been scheduled. Seeing all the people you want to see. Driving to spend time with family. Christmas, for most of us, is a wild time – a crazy time – and when we think about “not a creature stirring” we have the urge to laugh maniacally.
And I thought (more craziness!) that when I retired, it would all be much calmer, quieter. I thought I could spend days just watching Christmas movies and relaxing. Savoring the season instead of running through it. Not so much.
There is never enough time for all the things we want to do. We make choices, we set priorities, we fit in what we have to do and then we have little or no time left over. It doesn’t matter if you are working or retired. Tom and I often say “we can do anything we want but we can’t do everything we want.” This is especially true at Christmas because I am greedy for more of whatever I am doing. Two days spent baking Christmas cookies with Mom – I want a week! A couple of hours spent playing games with John and Jackie – I want 100. A hour walking through the frosty air with Tom. Okay – an hour is enough when it is 30 degrees! Time to talk to my brother and sister and their families, to play games, and laugh together. How can an afternoon ever be enough for that?
We pick and choose. We try to cram everything in. We make ourselves crazy with trying to do too much. We never savor our moments because we always gulping them.
Tonight, the night before Christmas, take time for one more important thing. Go to a Christmas Eve service someplace. Sing Silent Night and light a candle. Look in the face of God revealed to us through a baby born in a stable. Gaze in wonder and awe at what God has done. Take a moment to be silent in the midst of the noise and bustle and craziness of Christmas. Know that God loves you and this is his proof: his only son, born of Mary, in an out-of-the-way place called Bethlehem. Breath in the stillness of his calming presence and feel him stir your heart even as you quiet your mind to listen to the echo of angels singing.
May you have a blessed Christmas, feeling his peaceful presence even in the craziness.