The two things that I hear most from friends at this time of year are, “I just haven’t got the Christmas spirit yet” and “I wish things would slow down so I could enjoy Christmas.” Last Sunday our minister preached about slowing down so we can open our hearts to the miracles of the holidays—Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza—though he was referring to opening our hearts and minds to the miracle of the Baby Jesus.
I’m here to disagree on both points. The Christmas spirit is alive, well, and flourishing in my cottage. I have a small table-top tree, crowned with aa tacky turquoise paper maiche angel that’s been in the family for years—sentimental value, you know. My Scottish ornaments, a gift from good friends, are there, and last night another friend hung a plastic angel which she said reminded her of the ornaments she had as a child. Now that cheap ornament holds sentimental meaning for me. I’m told that in our attic I have a storage container full of ornaments, most with a story behind them. Maybe another year.
The coffee table holds a Scottish Santa complete with bagpipes—he’s called Santa Mac—and a wonderful Kris Kringle figure by folk artist Jim Shores, along with some fancy purple TCU holiday napkins that Jordan got me. And last night someone gave me some Texas cocktail napkins that say Bubba Santa.
On a side table is a glass brick, probably five inches square with Christmas lights in it, and my patio is alive with tiny green neon lights that reflect on the white wall of the neighbors’ guest house. Neither photograph well or I would share them.
And every night, Jacob comes out to open the digital advent calendar—last night it was a snowman skiing downhill, and the object was to score points by collecting gifts on the way down the slope. I still don’t understand it, but Jacob had such fun he stayed too long, and his mother called him to come finish his chores. Friends last night were scornful of digital advent calendars, but I am bowled over by the creativity this one shows. It’s an Edinburgh Christmas from the Jacqui Lawson Studio.
Christmas is all around us, there for the having, if we will reach out and welcome it. I don’t think the spirit mysteriously descends on us willy nilly.
In spite of a nice social life and lots of family and friends, I live a fairly solitary existence out here in my cottage, working at my computer. So when Russ Peterman suggested from the pulpit that we slow down, I thought for a moment I might just come to a dead halt. Hurry is not often in my vocabulary. But one of the things I love about the holiday season is that the tempo of my life speeds up—this week there is not one day when I can get up and work all day at my own speed, the kind of day I treasure but am glad to give up for the holidays. There’s something on my calendar every day—a dinner, a lunch, a happy hour. It’s the season to rejoice with friends, even ones you see frequently, and these celebrations remind me how lucky I am to love so many and be loved in return. I think that love opens the heart to the miracle of Christmas. Slow down? Nope, I want to gallop into the season at full speed.