Simple Joys

By: Nancy Wade

“Don’t let any of it get to you. Let all of today wash over you like warm water at a spa in Imaginaryland. Everything is going to be fine.” Sam Sifton, What to Cook, New York Times, Thanksgiving Day 2018

It’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of Christmas. For it is our most important holiday, the highlight of the Christian calendar, the culmination of the holy season of Advent. I love the season of Christmas – all of it! I love selecting perfect gifts for my loved ones. I love the uplifting parties and celebrations that take place throughout December. I love looking at the bright and twinkling lights that remind us in some small way of the star of Bethlehem. I look forward each year to the Christmas cards that grace my mailbox.

But most of all, I love the anticipation of the season.

It is easy to set our expectations too high, however. So many activities and events are crowded into the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My own worry over the holiday usually stems from my own unrealistic expectations, from my imagining what others expect of me. And so I have learned over the years to temper my excitement when I can. I have taught myself to pause and recognize the small moments of calm beauty in the midst of our celebrations.

And this is where my faith has become more important over the years. Whenever I enter the peace of our sanctuary, I take a deep breath and reflect on the real meaning of Christmas. I think about that sweet baby born in a simple manger. I love thinking about the wise men and shepherds who traveled many miles to pay homage to Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. I am struck by the dramatic impact of the life of the Christ Child, whose simple message of love and hope resonate these many centuries later.

And so I soak it all up: the gorgeous music of the season, the smiling and expectant faces of children as they take it all in. I listen to the Christmas story as read from the Bible and try to experience it as I did when I was a small child all those years ago. When Christmas day arrives – after all my careful planning – I look closely at the dear and familiar faces of my family members who I love so very much and I feel deep gratitude for Christmas and all that goes with it.

Holy God – Help us find peace within ourselves as Christmas approaches. May we recognize the sweet, simple moments of calm amidst the busyness and remember the true meaning of this season.

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