No shame in the game.
If I want to put my tree up on October 23rd, then I'm going to do it.
I know people think I'm crazy. I know people think that I should wait. I know people think that I'm one of those people who generate the need for stores to put out holiday items in September (but the truth is that I've got plenty of items already and I don't need the stores thankyouverymuch--besides, I usually wait until they mark them all down the day after Christmas).
I know people think a lot of things--but the truth is: sitting in front of my beautifully lit tree with all of the lights off in the living room was incredibly life giving last night.
I was exhausted after a week of work, still recovering from a family cold and general old lady-ness.
I had finally gotten all the girls to bed, taken a hot bath and put on my favorite pjs, and was able to take a deep breath. It was nice and quiet in the house and I chose to ignore the million other things on my to-do list and I just sat.
I felt my soul breathe a little deeper, I felt my heart beat a little slower, and I felt my weary world rejoice.
This is what reclaiming life is all about, Charlie Brown.
I thought about all of the years gone by as I placed some of the ornaments on the tree. I have ornaments from 2002, our first Christmas together. I have ornaments from our recent trip to Disney. I have ornaments from precious friends and family members that make me warm inside. I have some ornaments my children made in their classrooms that make me swoony. Places we have been and served. Ornaments from people and children we love (who now have children of their own). There have been good years and hard years since Chris and I started putting up our own trees. Some of my deepest wounds have healed nicely and I can smile when I think about how far we've come.
I think a lot of the same things each year as I set out my most treasured nativity. The different pieces have been given to me by my mother and mother-in-law over the years, and I set them on a table given to me by a dear friend and neighbor. It takes time to carefully unwrap the nativity. I always handle Joseph and his fragile staff with care, and I smile when I remove the instructional card that came with the set. I put the card in place when I pack it away to speak for me in the event I'm not here to take it out the next year. It's a morbid thought--but for the longest time my greatest fear during some of my darkest times was that something would happen to me and I wouldn't be here to care for my girls. The Lord and I have had many conversations with me and He filled me with incredible peace one evening when I was at one of my lowest points. When I am able to unwrap the nativity each year, it's a moment of praise because the Lord has brought me to this time yet again, fulfilling the words He spoke to my hurting heart years ago.
Maybe Christmas isn't your thing. I get that some people don't enjoy this holiday or the decorations. I know some people who choose to not celebrate this season for many different reasons. I don't expect everyone to jump on the Tinsel Train with me, and I am fully comfortable with that (but there's always room for friends on my train). My only suggestion would be to make sure you find whatever your "thing" is, and go all out with it. There has to be something that speaks to your soul. There has to be something that brings you back to Center and makes you come alive inside.
And whatever that thing is--do it.
Bake, write, exercise. Teach, photograph, make cards, run, golf, and watch movies. Sing, talk, drink coffee, and laugh. Life is more than day-in, day-out. Life is more than collecting a paycheck and meeting all of the social, family, and work obligations. We've all been uniquely and wonderfully made, and there are things that whisper to the depths of our souls.
Life is more than merely existing. Part of living is finding the unique things that make us come alive.
And making the time to do them.