Today I spent most of the day taking down my Christmas decorations. I got married during the Christmas season in 2000, so much of the garland and many of the swags and wreaths once decorated the church where Jim and I said our vows. And, with a name like “Holly,” I feel a little entitled to go all out when it comes to decorating for Christmas. No mantel left bare, no staircase unwrapped, no hall undecked. Falalalala…it’s a bit much.
While pulling all the Christmas decorations out of storage and putting everything in its place the weekend after Thanksgiving fills me with anticipation and a little anxiety (Christmas wrecks havoc on my nerves each year), taking everything down, boxing it up and storing it away gives me a renewed sense of order, of peace, of purpose. The craziness is over, the high drama of the season is past, the memories are made. Christmas always seems like a “final stop” of the year for me: one last box to check off, one last hurdle to jump. There are so many pieces that have to come together just right for everything to work out, and I’m sure I’m not the only mom that feels like the grand puzzle master on a crazy deadline to buy every present, send every card, attend every party and bake every cookie before the clock strikes midnight on December 24th.
There are always beautiful moments in the Christmas chaos, and this year was no different: attending a weekday church service with a co-worker, surprise carolers at my neighbor’s house singing in perfect harmony, my daughter’s version of “Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” my doubting son telling me that he will always believe in Santa after finding a sold-out jersey in his stocking. Jesus has ways of sneaking into the madness and calming my soul, if only to get me through the next checkmark on my Christmas list.
But for me, the true meaning of Christmas comes after everything is boxed away and put back on the shelf. There are no more parties, no more presents, no more running. I can look around my house and see not a trace of evergreen. At this moment both of my boys are over at a neighbor’s house and my daughter is sleeping. There is no music, no laughter, no LOUD…just quiet. And in this moment I feel the Peace on Earth that is the message of Christmas. A reminder that the true spirit of Christmas doesn’t get packed away with the boxes—it is here to stay. I am reminded that the peace that passes all understanding will find us where we are: if we made the naughty or nice list, if we hit a home run or struck out with the gifts we gave, if we embraced the Christmas season or simply survived it.
Happy New Year, friends. I hope you find a moment of joy in the everyday, the mundane and the quiet. I hope your race to the Christmas finish line is over, that whether you feel like you finished in first place or were limping along somewhere at the end, that you are right where you should be at this moment. Don’t leave the last Christmas gift unopened. May 2014 be full of blessings, and may you find peace in the chaos.