A couple of nights ago I gathered the kiddos onto the couch to read our Advent devotional. My firstborn asked if we could light a tiny red candle before we started. And that’s about where the serenity ended. My toddler started protesting the couch-sitting, and a couple of people were poking at each other about something. Then my husband, who was out of town, called. I answered, and by the time I hung up a few minutes later, all semblance of order had vanished. I decided it was best to pray and head to bed.
Later that evening I was talking on the phone with my mom, and let some of my pent-up discouragement spill out. I told her about our evening, and she said, “Well, maybe tonight it was just better to remember Jesus a different way… by being like Him and laying down their sweet heads.” “Yep,” I replied, “I sure hope they sleep in heavenly peace!” We had a little giggle over that one.
But this year… We’ve missed more days in our devotional than we’ve read. I haven’t made a single Christmas cookie. We had hoped to host a Christmas party, but with Judah traveling and me dealing with some health issues, it’s just not going to happen this year. And with all the “normal life” things we have ahead (along with working to get this book launched), it’s about all we can handle. And my mom so sweetly and wisely reminded me that it’s ok. It’s ok to miss days in our advent devotional. It’s ok not to host a Christmas party. It’s ok to put off a few things so that there is time to linger, to remember Jesus, to just enjoy time with family without feeling the pressure of so much to do.
And, it’s true. We can remember Jesus without baking cookies, going caroling, reading every single advent devotional, going to Christmas parties, or drinking eggnog (ok, I have had some eggnog). Jesus can be remembered and celebrated every moment of every day. He can be remembered when I snuggle with my kiddos on the couch before breakfast. He can be remembered when lighting a tiny candle or seeing a sprig of greenery. He can be remembered when we delight in seeing the light others have put up even if we can’t get around to it this year. He can be remembered with each snowflake or each brown patch where there is no snow. He can be remembered when Christmas gifts are overflowing or none at all. He can be remembered when the season is full of joy or full of sorrow.
There is never a time or reason when Jesus is not able to be remembered and celebrated. Because there is never a moment when the reality of His presence has left us. Who He is and what He’s done will forever and always affect our lives. And sometimes, it’s good to take a step away, to pause, to forego the extra festive outing or activity to simply be quiet before Him. Sometimes simplicity is the best way to allow the awe and beauty of who He is to wash over us.
Don’t get me wrong – Christmastime and all the lights and smells and sounds thrills me to my toes. But it’s so good for me to ponder again WHO we’re really celebrating, and to let go of some of those peripheral things this year. And if you’re in a similar boat, it’s ok for you, too. Let’s do what will help us worship Jesus better this year, and let everything else go. We won’t regret it.