All year long I've been saying that I'm doing good to leave the house wearing pants. Suddenly it's mid November and everyone has lost their mind in rolling out Christmas two weeks early and this sets off a panic attack. I stagger to church like an unkempt zombie and when I see that my lovely little church has an advent calendar all put together in neat little packets I grunt and snatch one up, practically snarling.
Once in the comfort of a pew I start going through the packet and instantly I am overwhelmed. Little people to cut out, references to a 'poster' which I fear means piecing the six or eight pages together, and a small paragraph to read each night. That this is instantly overwhelming to me is a bit telling. I recognize that I likely won't figure out how to put the pieces together so I wander back to take a photo of the finished one hanging in the hall.
The blessedly sweet children's director at our church, who makes sure to have some kind of simple advent thing for us each year and is the only reason my kids have ever had any kind of advent activity outside of church, asks if I picked up a calendar. I blubber and explain in my blubbering that I had but that I was taking a photo because I was certain I would screw it all up otherwise.
She then says something brilliant: 'why don't you have Kaiya do it?' and I go from blubbering to beaming just like that.
It is not lost on me that at seven and a half my sweet, caring daughter is more sweet and more caring than I could ever hope to be. Plus she has the superpower of being crafty. And wonder of wonders that tip-top school we send her to, a public one no less, taught her to read and my baby girl does hardly anything but read lately. Suddenly I see not a frustrated afternoon spent with craft tape and scissors but a peaceable evening watching Kaiya read to her brother the little paragraphs while they then tape little people to the poster.
Still, I'm quite certain I'll find a way to screw it up. I already know I will likely have the hardest time finding a candle, having wisely given up on having an advent wreath with the requisite oddly colored candles years ago, lately even my pathetic attempts to just have a single, blasted, candle seems too much. When it occurred to me: so what? Does it really matter if we don't light a stupid candle when we read? Even further, could I just choose to not dive into the frenzy this time? Make a choice to sit back and admire the moments as they come and go?
This was one thing I learned this past week from my grandmother, as I was sorting through pictures to put some out for her funeral. For starters, finding one of her was a bit of a task. Her outgoing husband, also passed, was in pert near all of them. When I did find one of her she was usually off to the side, leaning back even, and admiring whatever antics her husband was up to or whichever grandchild was a baby or toddler. The look of appreciation on her face though, oh my, it was so deep and intentional. She was just 'there' and she was happy.
Typically, despite my best intentions, I lose a Christmas box every year. This baffles me as we don't have the largest house in the world and I usually stuff them in the garage somewhere, but still it happens. One year it was the one with the stockings, so now we have extra stockings. The next I couldn't find one of the ornament boxes so we now have extra ornaments. You get the idea.
What if this year, whichever box plays hide and seek I just let it stay hidden? I resist the pull to grab more and more, and instead seek for less and less? What if I decide to just put up the wreath and leave the outside decorations at that? Could there be something to seeking an intentionally simple holiday season this year? So what if, when I can't get it together this year, I just let it all stay where it is? In an: ungathered, unhurried, and unworried about place?
Maybe some will join me in letting a thing or two go this season. Watch the 'thing' float on down like a leaf floating on a gutter river. And instead, turn and smile at the scene before them, and truly appreciate what is there.