Because, it’s the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost here. Christmas too. And we know who we are…

What I thought would be a short post about the holidays for a link-up with an amazing spiritual leader and director, Tara Owen, has become a mission statement.  I refuse to see failure or stress in moments that I didn’t think worked out “right”.  The wrongness does not make the moments worthless. Only my attitude can make them worth-more or worth-less.  

Keep reading if you want to join me!

Because, it’s the holidays. Thanksgiving is almost here. Christmas too. And we know who we are…

 

We are moment makers.

We plan and we dream. We buy ornaments and the perfect decorations; not from Pottery Barn (ok, maybe one thing), but even better than that. We find each piece of our decor all over the city… some at Michaels, Target, Ikea, save-on-crafts, Hobby Lobby … we arrange, we find, and we organize. We make treats and we pray over them when we remember to take the time. We want to create the perfect Christmas Season full of a love our families and friends and OURSELVES can feel. We want to feel it! We want it to soak into our bones in every possible way.

We light candles to remember the light. I have candles. Oh, I love them so much!** My favorite ones are discontinued. I can’t find them anywhere. And when I burn through the last two I have, there will be no more Christmas or Jesus in the world.

We listen to music, we make smells, we bring out the soft blankets and warm boots. We read scripture. We make lots and lots of plans to see every person possible because we love them and it’s exhausting but we love them so we go again. We find a sweater and put on mascara and we go.

And we go and we go. We create and we create and we go.

 

We are so busy making moments.

Another day goes by and we have the sense that it was good. We flop into bed and mumble, “That was a good day.” Because we think it was good. We hope it was good. Sleep, plan, repeat.

It all seems good, but we can barely remember what we did yesterday… we can barely remember what we did this morning. (Except I know I got Starbucks. I remember that.)

We are so busy making moments that we forget to be IN the moment.

 

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This is where I start to have trouble. This is where I am tempted to tell myself and you
“4 ways to slow down and appreciate the holidays”

 

But it’s just not that easy. I know it because I THINK I am living in the moment. I think I am slowing and appreciating and grabbing all that gratitude out of my pockets and sprinkling it on the world and God and myself. I think I am the gratitude fairy.

But I’ve been the gratitude fairy for a few years now. I don’t think it’s working. I still forget what I did yesterday. I still yell at my kids for grabbing an extra stuffed animal to bring with us on the Santa Train, because “Now we are late and the tickets were very expensive … and that stuffed tiger is really big! You are going to have to carry that the WHOLE time!”

How can I create awesomeness if you won’t cooperate!?

 

I am so busy creating a wonderful, beautiful life for myself and my kids that I forget that life is full of wonder and beauty.

Even in the mistakes and the missed trains.

I am so busy making wonder that I forget to notice the wonder all around me.

Even in the imperfect Christmas lights and burnt cookies.

I am so busy making beauty that I forget to notice the beauty in the moment.

Even in myself and my lumpy sweaters.

 

And even when I do remember to pay attention to all the awesome (actual “awesome”), it is fleeting.

I think that’s one of the hardest things about this time of year as I get older. These months feel shorter and more impermanent. Fleeting.

This is part of why I try to maximize every moment… fill every moment to the brim with all the joy and fun and CHRISTMAS I can carry in my little arms. I want to combat time. Perhaps if I create enough fantastic moments, the feelings will last longer than just December.

But they almost never do. I hate that feeling of December 27, 28th …or January 4, 5th…. as we walk around feeling the magic of Christmas float back out to sea with the tide. Emptier, sadder. “Oh right, this is real life…”

There is an underlying melancholy to Christmas that we all feel in different ways because Christmas is connected to so many ideals and it is so temporary.

Think about some of the best Christmas Songs – especially of the last ten years. There is an ache there. A profound ache for home and permanence and love that does not hurt so much.

We do not have those things, and even when we do, they are so fleeting.

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So, Moment Makers, what are we do to? When the moments keep passing? When the holidays become a pain instead of a joy?  When the lights are not enough to keep the darkness far away? When we feel the impermanence? When the struggle to see the beauty and wonder becomes too much and we snap?

honestly…

We do it anyway. We do it anyway and we do it even more.  

The dark will always be there. It makes the light more beautiful. The pain of impermanence will always be there. It makes each moment matter that much more. Do it anyway. Here’s why: 

 

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!
We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us,
knowing Him directly just as He knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.

1 Cor. 13:12-13

And so, there it is:  3 Things to do to Make Holiday Moments Matter:

1. Trust in God. Trust that what you do matters – every ornament and every cookie and every hug. Trust that light wins. Trust that you are seen and loved.

2. Hope unswervingly. Hope that the things we see at this time of year: Wonder, Delight, Love, Joy… even when we most clearly see them, it’s just a hint of the future.  We are peering through a mist. It’ll get even better someday.

3. Love extravagantly. Love in whatever way you know how. Love and love BIG. Create moments. Burn cookies together. Laugh as you watch the train pass by. Love. The moments are only fleeting if they are not made of love.

We make moments out of love and trust that they will last forever.

Love is eternal. Love never dies. Love will last forever. 1 Cor. 13:8

 

… Three core “things to do” when we don’t know what to do.  When we want to make the holidays special and meaningful and yet we struggle.  We focus on “why” we are making moments and let the “what” and “how” be freer and full of whatever comes.

Why?
Because we trust that there is more going on than we can see. Because we have hope in a love that lasts forever. 

Christmas is about “Emmanuel, God with us.” Experiencing God directly is what we are really after. We may not always know it, but that’s what all this moment-making is all about. We want to know God directly, but all we can do is create minutes that give us a glimpse of God – a glimpse of the good in life. If I remember that the reason why I create all these beautiful things and all these wondrous moments is to help myself and my kids see God in everything, then nothing is wasted and nothing is a failure. 

At a party with old friends, God is with us.

At home, cuddled in bed, God is with us.

In the car, stuck in traffic to see Santa, God is with us.

Alone, wondering what to do next, God is with us.

The actual contents of the moment are secondary to seeing God there first.

So rather than trying to fill each moment with activities and stuff, I try to fill each moment with my attention.

See God in it.

Emmanuel. God with us in it all.  This is the holidays.  And rather than being the gratitude fairy, sprinkling thankfulness on everything, I am going to be a tour guide – pointing out the God (good) in every little thing.

God is with us.

So, we make moments. We create and we create and we go.

Knowing that God is with us, means we can create with pleasure and hold it all loosely, Trusting and Hoping that everything we do in Love lasts forever.  The dark will still be there. The fleeting nature of time will still pull on us, but we will keep creating.

Another day will go by and we will have the sense that it was good. We’ll flop into bed and mumble, “That was a good day.” But this time, we will know it was good. We will make moments and be in them.  God is with us. It is all good. Sleep, plan, repeat.

-Nicole

 

Find out more about Tara’s 6 week journey through Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany here!

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