Over the weekend Steve and I had a special Christmas date night planned. We got dressed up and went to dinner, saw the Nutcracker ballet and then went out for dessert afterward. Every part of the night felt rushed and way too fast to me. I was shocked when the curtain came down for intermission – it must have been a stage malfunction. How had that already been an hour? The intermission itself was so short we couldn’t even get a decent photo of ourselves. When the dancers started bowing in the second act, I figured they must’ve cut out some of the scenes from the original Nutcracker I saw as a little girl. It all went by so fast and before I knew it, I was at home washing off my makeup and getting under the covers. I’ve come to realize that time moves incredibly fast when you’re an adult.
In contrast, the Christmases I remember from childhood seemed to be painfully slow coming, like the season was put in slow motion and the big day would never actually arrive.
I remember my family had a fabric advent calendar in the shape of a Christmas tree with little felt shapes and characters that would Velcro on to count down the days. To me, it seemed like those 25 shapes would multiply and the season was entirely too long. The anticipation would drive me crazy and make me feel hopeless.
It now seems like the hopeless feeling comes in the opposite way. That I can’t get everything done, that my calendar fills up too quickly, shopping feels stressful and I sadly can’t even stay awake to watch one of the Christmas movies in my Netflix queue.
One of the pastors in church yesterday shared that he was feeling behind too – that he’s been caught up in meetings and get-togethers and that his family Christmas tree still hasn’t been decorated yet. He encouraged us to take a moment and simply be still. It was just what I needed to be told. Be still.
Having a fast paced business in which we spend the majority of our time planning for the future and setting goals, it is vital that we set aside time to simply be still and embrace the present. This is the season for us to relax and recharge for the coming year, but it’s just so easy to get wrapped up in all of the to-dos and not savor the stillness.
In the stillness is when we enjoy the present. In the stillness is when I realize how good our tree makes our apartment smell, how amazingly colorful the sunsets are in the afternoon and how magical it looks when small flurries of snow make a brief appearance.
One of my favorite Christmas traditions that Steve and I have is creating tree decorations together, and I love that it requires us to stop everything and be still. In our three Christmases together, we have come up with a concept for the look of our tree, shopped for craft supplies and carved out time during the evenings to put our plan into action.
These are the times that I’ll remember most as the start to the holiday season before it feels rushed and hectic. The moments when we first start playing Christmas music and sit across from each other at our table creating something beautiful. The times when we put everything else aside to spend time together in the stillness.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10
Check back tomorrow for the recipe for these homemade marshmallows (or as I like to call them, Mooreshmallows)!
photo credit: Matthew Land Studios