“What is it? What is it?” My daughter asks excitedly. A small package wrapped in glittery gold paper sits on the table. She climbs onto her chair and eagerly unwraps the gift. She gasps with delight as only a three year old can. The gift is a simple ornament with a hand-painted picture on it marking the first day of advent.
Advent is the latin word that means “coming”. Twenty-five days filled with an eager anticipation of the coming of Christmas and the birth of Christ. Advent calendars fill homes and candles are lit in churches each counting down to Christmas day. There are other beautiful traditions as well, such as Hanukkah and the lighting of the menorah. And fun traditions like Santa and his Reindeer. Local communities join in the spirit of the season with holiday tree lightings and winter shows. Regardless of your traditions, all too soon the countdown ends and the holiday season as come and gone.
The holiday season can very easily be marked with anxiety and busyness. There are holiday parties, gifts to get family and friends, shopping, sales, decorating, wrapping, cooking, I could go on and on. This is all on top of normal schedules of daughters’ caring for elderly parents, doctors’ appointments to schedule, new medications to reconcile, unexpected heartache, trips to the hospital, and illness. December is not immune from sadness, illness, burnout, anxiety, or death. In fact, the holiday season can even trigger feelings of sadness and loneliness. Family caregivers know this first hand, living the balancing act of caring for aging loved ones while caring for their own family.
Is it possible to enjoy this season? Is it possible to rest even in busyness? As with all things worthwhile in life, it requires intentionality. Rest never just happens–it requires an active practice. Often this is counter-intuitive, the idea of working to rest. But it’s the truth. Busy schedules aren’t going to change, instead we must intentionally set aside the time. It doesn’t require as much as we may think, and it looks different for every person.
As my daughter gently swings the ornament in front of her face, I read a short devotional. And that was it–barely even five minutes.
My hope for you this holiday season, is that you will set aside just five minutes each day to intentionally rest in the joy of the season.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
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