It's that time of year, and I've got a "little" list. But as I begin, let me go back one day ...
Yesterday, I launched myself into life. Do you ever do that? One minute you are restful amidst flannel sheets and the next minute you discover yourself navigating traffic with a travel mug of cold coffee in your hand? Well, that was my day yesterday. I rushed from one errand to the next, checking my watch to ensure I'd make the many critical appointments. Enjoying little since something else demanded my attention two steps ahead. Inevitably, I didn't pick up my daughter at school, was late getting my son to swimming and nearly late to my daughter's ballet class. By the time I collapsed on the couch, it was nearly 9pm. And as a reward for my desperate efforts all day, I treated myself ... watching the Winter Finale of Scandal.
So much to do at this time of year. So many things to remember. I, like many people I suppose, feel like a whirling dervish. When did this happen? And where did the joy go? As Cindy Lou Who asked in Jim Carey's "Grinch" movie ... "Where Are You Christmas??? Why can't I find you?" I pondered this last night. And today I began differently.
Today, I awoke with a festive song on my iPod. Think Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra were crooning It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. That was one of my Granddaddy's favorite songs. So, before I "launched" into today like I did yesterday, I took a deep breath and imagined a Christmas Eve service at my childhood church where I stood next to him and sang that song. I could hear the organ. I could see the stained glass windows. I could smell his pipe tobacco.
Today, I ventured into "my room" and sat on "my chair" to begin my morning by reading a few passages from the Simple Abundance book by Sarah ban Breathnach, a journey to authenticity which I've been undertaking all year long. I drank my Gingerbread Latte. I turned on the Christmas tree. I absorbed her simple words of wisdom. And, I smiled.
Today, I hand-wrote messages on a small stack of Christmas cards. I actually went to the store, selected a few cards, and wrote messages. Did you ever do that? I used to ... long, long ago when my Christmas tree was 3 ft tall and placed in the window of my Lafayette Court Apartment. When I only decorated, cleaned and maintained a small space -- when it was only me. Before the dreaded 8 pt. Arial Narrow Christmas letters were discovered where we learned we could actually cram in 365 days of information on one piece of stationary, some of us wrote notes in real Christmas cards. Not that the photo cards aren't real. But I miss actual "cards." And Truly, I do love seeing my kids friends and hearing all about them in these photo cards. BUT, I miss the handwritten notes and signatures. Not only were they shorter ... but they seemed a little more heartfelt. (No offense meant to you lengthy-letter writers. But right now, all the received cards are stacked in my messy kitchen waiting a quiet moment for perusal. I typically read the long letters AFTER Christmas.
Today, I will ring the bells at the Royal Oak Post Office for the Salvation Army. I coordinate a day for the Chamber to do this every December. And, for the past 4 years, we have been blessed with sunny, not-too-cold days. I wear my pink Disney Santa hat and ring the bells for an hour shift. I smile and speak to everyone who walks thru those doors. Yes, I smile the whole time and LOVE this day. It reminds me of the true meaning of this season. One year, a nun gave me a St. Christopher medal. Last year, a gentleman stopped his car to give me a warm cookie and hot chocolate from Brueggers. For some reason, the very idea of ringing the bells feeds my spirit.
Perhaps that is what changed me today. After yesterday's frenzy, I remembered to pause this morning instead of launch myself from the sheets. I remembered to ask for the Grace to "make it." And I chose to find a new way to reflect joy to the world.
This Christmas, I pray you find a way to do a little of this too. The "Gifts of the Season" don't come in wrapped packages ... These simple gifts are Smiles, Hugs, A Touch, Encouragement, Kindness, Gratitude, Goodness, Consideration, Patience, Gentleness, Thoughtfulness, Joyfulness and Love shared freely. And I really don't need a list to remember to find those.
Merry Christmas to All ....