09 December 2010

Thoughts on the Christmas Crazy

I've been thinking about the crazy that is Christmas, and I'm going to step out of my usual voice here to share some of my thoughts.

Christmas is always crazy and this year even more so, what with the moving cross-country two days later. We're not frenzied, just busy, and things will only pick up as we move closer.

It's not in the spirit of the season, some say, and I buy that. It's hard to contemplate the Christ-child when you're running hither and thither, like a jackalope in molting season.

Then again, I can't imagine the first Christmas was exactly a contemplative picnic. Think about it. What part of:
  • riding a donkey while pregnant
  • searching a full town for a place to stay
  • giving birth among the animals
  • all while trying to register your family in some #$^! census
sounds like a set of peaceful moments for you? Because I don't see anything there that looks like the restful time I always want for Christmas.

Now, there's something to letting go of a lot of the crazy that goes with this season, of walking away from some of the things that make it so nuts and making space for the peace and the quiet. But there's a reason why we do all of those things. It's different for different folks, and each person has to decide if they're going to parties/making cookies/decorating the house/buying gifts/singing in choir/etc. for good motives or bad.

For me, when I search my heart I find that I want both - I want to give gifts to people I love (and, heck, receive them, too), and celebrate with them at parties, and bake and cook up a storm, and decorate and see Christmas lights and wrap like a frenzied little wrapping-paper sprite, but I also want the peace and the quiet.

Clearly, I can't have everything I want.

Or maybe I can.

See, I think Mary had the right idea. Her life was crazy right around the time Jesus was born, but instead of trying to make it other than it was, she held on to the things she wanted and found her quiet later. She took them in, held them, and pondered them in her heart.

I'm not saying we should embrace the crazy without thought, that we should do things because we feel like we have to even if our hearts aren't in them, or that Christmas is everything it should be. What I am saying is that there's a way to make peace with the action. I think it's possible to be both Martha and Mary (the other one) this season.

What do you all think?

This doesn't fit very well with the usual tone of Imperfect Prose, but I'm linking anyway, because I love the community and the people there, and because it's the last one before January!


Tammy said...

Ah! And here is the voice of the somewhat sarcastic Sarah that I have missed and dearly love. :)! Ha ha.

Christmas? For some reason your blog makes me think of the little girl in The Grench who sang, "Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you?" blah blah blah. Of course I am not meaning that anyone has lost Christmas. That song just popped into my head for some strange reason.

I love Christmas. I am the biggest kid when it comes to Christmas and you are so funny and honest about it here......."I love wrapping gifts and getting gifts." Me too Sarah. Me too. :). My tree has been up for a month now. No really.

And I have an awful heathenistic confession to make........I still believe in jolly ole St. Nick. I know that in some circles that is taboo. I wore a Santa sweat shirt to church one time and I got this remark, "You do know you have an idol on your shirt." I felt guilty. Now I just think, "Yeah. I do. What of it?"

Then, I wore a Garfield sweat shirt one year that stated, "Tis the season to be greedy." That was probably over the top and absolutely nothing that I believe in, but hey. Sometimes ya just gotta rock the boat ya know?

Can I be really tacky and you forgive me? We were in Wal-Mart the other day and my friends grandmother had just passed away. We were walking through the Christmas section and there was one of those yard signs that said, "Ho Ho Ho." And her little girl looks up innocently and says, "Hey mom, can we put that on grannies grave for Christmas?" She replies, "Let's not." And we almost fell over laughing.

Well, I hope you don't disown me or ban my comments. In one sitting I have managed to disrespect the dead, hail greediness at Christmas, and declare my faith in a glutenous, cookie addicted Christmas idol. Still love me?

emily wierenga said...

but instead of trying to make it other than it was, she held on to the things she wanted and found her quiet later.

LOVE this. and i agree. we don't have to pretend to be something we're not. we need to invite christmas into the here and now, into whatever our lives look like at the present. you are doing this. and you will celebrate it longer than any of us, probably, because you're intentionally storing away. i need to do this. to store away the quiet. thank you for this beautiful post, dear sarah. i think it's perfect for imperfect prose. :) merry christmas sister. xo

Melissa Campbell said...

It is a season to lavish our love extravagantly, like He did for us. Whatever that looks like for you, may you be overcome with the joy and awe of His touch. Blessings.

Laura said...

One think I love about Christmas is being the place everyone comes home to. We have friends who have moved far away who come home to be with family. Almost every night someone is stopping by to visit and have a beer. I love it! I am usually exhausted by the end of the season, but it's a good exhaustion...like swimming laps in the pool. You know what I mean? I think we need seasons for this kind of crazy because we can't keep it up all year.

And what a picture: you moving, mary traveling. the Christ-child was born into a not-so-stress-free environment.

Enjoy your Christmas, Sarah.

Joelle said...

A jackalope molting?! Love that image. Describes the insane craziness right about now perfectly! Your thoughts are fantastic. Honest, open, welcoming. I do think, though, that the celebration could be spread out a bit. What about bland and boring January and February? I'd take fewer chocolates and parties in December if I could have some cheery music and gatherings in the later gloomy winter months. Not sure what balance looks like in my life, but I'm wanting some.

Sarah said...

So good to hear from you all.

Joelle, try being in our family - we have TG, Christmas, and New Years like everyone else, then our anniversary (Jan 6th) and Mirren's birthday (Jan 12th) - - AAAAAAAAAA!!!

emily wierenga said...

i pray you find the sacred too, sister. love to you and yours. e.

christianne said...

I loved you in this voice, too, just like I love you in the other voice you normally use here.

It's so true, those images you shared about Mary not having a very peaceful first Christmas. Yikes!

I keep thinking about you during this season, wondering about all the crazy. Truthfully, I cannot even comprehend trying to move to another state right now. When I think about it that way, I'm amazed you're doing it -- and with semblance of sanity, no less!

PS: I loved reading Tammy's comment. :)