Last year, I was surprised by Christmas.
Somehow throughout December I kept myself busy, dealing with the daily. Forgetting to look around and connect, forgetting to check my course. I only half noticed the shops starting to fill with Christmas fare, the familiar sign of nativities, trees, and decorations beckoning… tiny lights flickering and glistening everywhere I turned.
I remember the crammed supermarket. I would smile, merrily humming along to the music dreaming of a white Christmas while filling my shopping trolley with only the regular shop, pushing straight past the baubles and puddings.
Then suddenly one day, I was taken aback. Unexpectedly, right there in front of me, ’twas the night before Christmas. Surprised and unprepared, I felt disorientated and wondered where December had gone. Not a creature was stirring, not a stocking in sight. I jumped up and dashed and pranced into action. I rushed through the motions, preparing the house, buying Christmas food, and finishing the gift wrapping.
In no time, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. My clean and tidy house ready to welcome the guests who would never know about my last minute pop up Christmas.
But a part of me felt sad, and robbed, and something was missing. My heart longed for the season I had almost missed. Distracted by life, I had missed the usual turn off, forgotten to notice. No inner preparation, no festive evenings by the tree. No community browsing, smiling and nodding merrily at those who dare to wear Santa hats in public.
No silent nights at home, holy nights of gratitude, nor evenings in, when all is calm as the tree sparkles, and my heart celebrates and awaits.
Looking back, Christmas day was lovely. Candles, holly, crackers, bubbly, turkey and money pudding. Jokes and chit chat. After lunch conversation. The clean up. The hugs and the farewells.
Was that really a year ago? I remember sitting in my lounge, in the warm glow of another Christmas passed. As the dishwasher hummed, I remember gazing out of the window cradling my warm cup of tea, reflecting on another Christmas Day. Phew. I thought, only just made it this year. In a twinkling it was over. In a few days, I will pack down the tree, hiding it away, in it’s big box in the garage for another year.
In that moment I made a decision. To be certain to always linger over Christmas. To savour every Christmas moment and to live slowly.
Never again, I vowed, would I miss all that December has to offer. Never again would I rush past Christmas, failing to connect, or miss the big red stop sign, or ho hum at the commercialism… yes, tempting me to spend, but also, inviting my heart to prepare.
So this time last year, I made a diary entry for a year in advance. December 1st, 2016. It read “Tree decorated, shopping finished, linger this Christmas season”. And here we are. Another year lived. It’s almost December again, and Christmas is coming!
[clickToTweet tweet=”“Tree decorated, shopping finished, linger this Christmas season”” quote=”“Tree decorated, shopping finished, linger this Christmas season””].
I look around and smile. I greet the season. This year I will be ready. I will prepare my home and my heart. I will not procrastinate as if December goes on forever. It doesn’t. Time waits for no one. I love this life cycle of seasons. Yes. This year I will slow down, remember Christmas, and connect. And I will give myself, and others, the precious gift of presence.