There seems to be a rise of people openly combating the busyness during the Christmas season. Maybe it’s always been this way and I’m only seeing it now that I’m fully entrenched in the world of parenthood.
Busyness at Christmas. I feel like it’s not something we need to strike down and be angry at.
As a very introverted extravert who is clawing her way back to mental and physical health after complete and utter burnout, I understand the need for rest. I understand the need to be alone once in a while, and to cut back activities for the family’s health. To not say yes to everything.
I feel like Christmas should not be the season that we become bitter and cut back on all the things. The people. The parking lots. The pageants.
I feel like seeking rest and balance all year long would be heath. Then we could better take Christmas commitments with community and family in stride and not resent them.
Christmas busyness is a first-world problem. A privilege. It has become a festival to our excess rather than a humble gathering of love in the rejected places full of straw.
Let’s flip our abundance and trade cheaply-made goods for things that will last. Gold. Frankincense. Myrrh. Togetherness. Things that cost more than a twenty dollar bill and last longer than the wait at an automated checkout.
Let’s flip our angry overwhelm at all the people and all the gatherings and trade for gratefulness. We have people in our life. We have freedom. We have time off.
Our society is so abundant in wealth that we can afford to take weeks away from production and put on productions ourselves. That we should be thankful for.
We have groups of people who want to spend time with us. That we should be thankful for.
Can we instead cut back on our expectations of ourselves? Of each other? Of appearing put-together? To host perfectly? To have expensive gifts for every fifth cousin? For feeling like time together isn’t enough? To have the perfect, postable squares that show our perfect decorations, homes, families, gatherings?
We need a death of our expectations. We need the humility to be broken and human and poor in each other’s presence. We need a loss of pretense.
Simply sharing bread and wine in a stable with people who make you feel safe is what Christmas should be.
It’s the season to slow down internally and remember Jesus’ example of humility. He made the earth at his word. And then he came completely dependant to it. He grew within it like any human would. He made himself nothing and constrained himself to the laws of nature, being reared in a very imperfect blue-collar family. He chose to be born in an off-street barn rather than an opulent palace.
Jesus gave up his expectations – a heavenly right to opulence – and showed up empty-handed, naked, to love.
Can we be a little bit the same?
Can we gather with all our people? Appreciate our busyness, be grateful for our abundance? Share it generously? And give up the expectation of perfection we imagine other people have of us? That we have of ourselves?
Let’s open our imperfect homes and trade our pretend opulence for true humility.
Wear sweat pants and slippers. Overlook our floors covered in Lego, Barbies and laundry. Serve the burnt turkey or cabbage rolls or toast without shame. Give an excess to charity. Play. Converse.
Build into our children’s self-worth. Build into the quality of our communities. Spend time together embracing imperfection. Allowing each other to be human.
Let’s be okay with showing up a bit late to gatherings with last-minute stains on our clothes, a little bit frazzled because the kids did this thing on the way out the door. Again.
Fighting Christmas busyness has us fighting our communities, fighting our families. It gives us permission to treat our people as an inconvenience.
Western attitude is the real inconvenience. It tries to tell us we cannot be family, cannot participate in community, unless the perfect squares are ticked. And then projected on our self-created alters.
Let’s give up perfection. Give up trying to apparate Christmas magic. And instead participate with it.
Let’s open our smelly stables and be content with the Savior who abides there.
Let’s embrace Emmanuel – God with us and all of our inadequacy.
Let’s be okay with all the animals and the outcasts, of whom we are the worst.
Let’s trade our expectation of perfection for the expectation that Jesus will incarnate our imperfection.
Let’s just be.
In all the places required of us this season.
Because busyness with our people is a blessing.