Yesterday I had something of a Charlie Brown moment. In the brief space of time I was afforded to breathe during my daughter’s nap, I allowed a slow moment for my emotions to catch up to my brain and become thoughts. They sounded something like this:
“It doesn’t feel like Christmas. I was so looking forward to Christmastime, and now that it’s here I just feel drained.”
Every year, more and more, Christmas becomes a to-do list that I rush through in hopes of finishing early so I can put my feet up, bake some cookies (which I don’t even eat any more, who am I kidding?), and somehow feel Christmasy. This is my first Christmas season with a child and I’m learning that the relentless nature of motherhood does not slow down or cease as holidays approach. There is no Christmas vacation for moms. If anything, I feel squeezed even harder as nap times and evenings are spent writing Christmas cards, wrapping gifts, and making sure every family member is accounted for. (Not that I don’t delight in gift giving. There are a few gifts this year I’m counting down the days to give, I’m so excited about them.)
The highlight of my merriment comes when I turn on our Christmas tree lights and my increasingly vocal daughter Ooo’s and Ah’s and Wow’s with wide eyed wonder at the glittering spectacle before her. This is her first Christmas and for her it has no meaning beyond visual sensory pleasure.
For me, this time means far more than cozying in to my hygge RV, looking even more Scandinavian these days now that the white paint is dry and the Christmas greens have been hung. Advent has always been a season of slow, steady contemplation, anticipation, of waiting for Christ.
Maybe this year more than most, the waiting means more. I’m weary this Advent season, just as the Jews were waiting for their Messiah when He graced them with his tiny presence two Millennia ago. Theirs was not a merry waiting, filled with eggnog, greenery, and lights. Theirs was a hungry waiting, oppressed and tired, but still a waiting filled with hope. Hope doesn’t need to be filled with energy and smiles to stay in tact. Hope is determined choice. Its clothes are tattered and eyes have bags but its knuckles are white with determination.
I need that hope as the injustice of the world makes me feel drunk with anguish and the weariness of my life stretches me thin. This year I need to sink into Advent, even though I don’t feel like it. My flesh feels like tuning out and binge watching cooking shows on Netflix while my daughter sleeps. My soul needs to breathe in the waiting hope of Advent. To sit in stillness, listening to the grace-filled whispers of the Holy Spirit reminding me that Christ is coming again and that coming is one of justice. I need to soak in the Scriptures that preach peace and joy and freedom to my soul. I need to gaze at a crèche and contemplate how incredibly inaccurate most of them are (let’s be real: that hay would have been covered in blood and Mary would have been asleep when the shepherds arrived. I’d love to see a probably-way-closer-to-real-life manger scene). It’s my first Christmas after having a baby and Mary’s act of sacrifice and pain to bring us our Savior is now one that brings me to tears and slight cynicism at nearly every single Nativity scene.
If the only thing I get out of Christmas this year is a few minutes of communion with the Savior whom we celebrate and contemplation on His coming, then I can count it a success. In the immortal words of Linus, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”