Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sometimes It's Hard to Be Ready for Christmas

People say, "The years go by so fast now. It doesn't seem possible that it's Christmastime again." Maybe that's why I only feel ready for Christmas every other year. The years are going twice as fast. Little-kid-me thought it was an eternity from Christmas to my birthday in June and another eternity all the way back to Christmas. There was lots of time and longing and waiting, but now the time goes so fast, it feels unaccounted for. There hasn't been enough longing and waiting, but it's here anyway. Already. Unexpected and early and my heart's not ready. And I feel a little panic, like I'm about to be left behind and miss out because I wasn't ready. 

If this isn't your "on" year, I want to offer you two things. First is a simple definition of what Advent is about, shared by Glennon Doyle over here. It tells me that I don't have to be "ready" to participate. I won't be left behind because this I can do. I can practice feeling loved. Which is a good idea if, inside your head, your first instinct is to feel judged. Believing I'm loved is alright, but feeling I'm loved is like starting to breathe again. 

The other thing I want to share is this: 

This song tells about showing up with whatever we are (ready or not), which when we're honest, isn't much, and finding it pleases him. It tells the sweet innocence of giving what we can. Not the proud gifts or the shiny ones - those are easy to give. What's hard is when our gifts look puny and we worry our love will get lost when it's carried on such a rickety vehicle. 

When I was in high school, my sister and I drew a name of a girl who needed a gift for Christmas. Our school arranged for kids to come to our gym and eat, play games, and then be presented with gifts. The girl we chose was older - probably eleven or twelve and we went to the store to pick her gift. Our mom was going back to school to get a college degree and there wasn't a lot of money. As we checked price tags on toys our inner monologue was, "Too much...too much." We realized the best thing we could afford to buy her was a deck of Uno cards. It was disappointing, but I believed in what we were doing and hoped it could be enough.

We spent the whole evening with our new friend who was from Russia. I secretly worried the whole time that she'd be disappointed with the gift we'd brought. When we gathered in a room to give gifts, there were large packages all around us. She opened her gift and I tried to read her, but I couldn't. She was quiet and reserved all evening, possibly because she didn't know a lot of English, but I couldn't tell. We started to teach her to play it, but soon her ride needed to take her home to her family. And I've always wondered. Always felt a little sad we couldn't do more. 

But now that I think about it, Uno is fun. You can play it for hours, with as few as two people. Maybe that deck of cards is worn soft by now. Maybe there were hours of laughter with brothers and sisters. Maybe now, she's teaching her kids to play the simple game. Maybe not. Maybe she never got the game, but she remembered the two girls who offered it to her with hopeful eyes. Maybe she felt the love in our gift even though it was little. 

And I'm a little drummer girl, wondering how my gift will be received. Since I'm poor and all, but then he's poor too. Maybe he'll understand. Maybe he'll see my love shining for him in this dark night. 

Then he does. My love, my purest wish to be ready for his arrival and give something makes him smile. Well look at that. I am loved.

We are loved. 

You are loved. 

If you feel that this Christmas, even once, it was a success. It didn't pass you by. He could never pass by someone he loves so much. 

Merry Christmas to us!

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