I’ve been usually anxious to start celebrating Christmas this year. I mean, my itch for Christmas music and shopping for presents always hits me a little early, but the pull has been much stronger. To the point where I listened to Christmas music for several hours at work the last couple of days, and I even indulged in some Christmas decor shopping at a local town event this last Thursday night. (Oh, and I bought some Christmas decorations at Hobby Lobby over a month ago, but I told myself it was just because last year I saw, loved, and then waited too long and all the things I wanted were gone by mid-November.
The itch always starts too early, but rarely have I given in like I did this year. I mean, I even got out boxes of my Christmas decor this week. And I put things on my walls today.
So I got to thinking. What is it about this year that I allowed myself to start early?
For the last 10 years, I’ve been very stingy about my Christmas spirit, telling myself I was choosing to savor it until after Thanksgiving. Some of it was because I believe in the importance of being thankful. Despising how we’d become so consumed with the materialism that comes with Christmas, I have always railed against starting Christmas so early because i wants to properly celebrate Thanksgiving and being thankful for all that God has given me.
Advent comes into play with all this, too. There is something so special, so poignant, about spending the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day pondering and considering what it means to WAIT. In a world, a culture, a life where waiting isn’t necessary or honored in any way, shape or form, waiting is a powerful tool to prepare out hearts for the joy of celebrating Jesus coming. I still believe in that.
So I’m still pondering… perhaps I’m indulging in Christmas early this year because how so many negative things that have happened in 2016. Not for me… I’ve had a wonderful year personally and professionally. But 2016 kicked everyone’s behind. So maybe I’m reacting to that. All the negativity on social media has everyone worked up. So designing an advent calder with Christmas music blaring in my earbuds was a way I escaped from all of that.
But, I actually think it’s something different. Stay with me.
2015 was a terrible year for me. If you’ve read some of my posts from here, you can piece together some things and figure out some of what I’ve went through. I’ve kept details private because they are just that, private. But the feelings, the writing, I’ve tried to keep authentic. And I think you can see that when you look back over the posts. Even back into 2014 when the awfulness began.
So it’s been awhile since I’ve had a happy Christmas. 2014’s Christmas was one of the most painful times of my life, and the worst hadn’t even happened yet. A lot of it was over by 2015’s Christmas, but there was still a lot of uncertainty and questions I carried around with me as well as some residual pain from some things earlier in the year… and then some fresh pain from some things that happened in the Fall. That Christmas, I was in the middle of selling my house in Tucson, on the heels of so much transition and some significant personal heartbreak due to lost friendships. That was a weird time. I was longing for grace. I was chasing it will every fiber of my being, because my reaction to that trauma screwed so many things up. But I wore it out. Grace was not to be found in the places where I kept chasing it.
Despite how 2016 has kicked everyone else around, my 2016 has been pretty amazing. I left some things behind in January that I never plan to pick up again. The day I watched them take three wooden crates on the back of a semi into storage was the same day I loaded up my car with my “Brave” flag and my U of A cooler and left Arizona. Forever. I made it to New Mexico at about 8:30pm, found a hotel, and felt the weight of the world life off my shoulders. It was like that whole state represented everything in my life that was miserable and painful and it was finally out of my life.
So this pre-Christmas season, after a sweet and wonderful year of healing (though I have a long way to go. Today alone proved that, as my loss kicked me in the can) I am soooooooo ready to celebrate. I am so ready to rejoice over a little baby that came to rescue me and the world. This weary soul is rejoicing.