1. The heat went out.
2. I found out that the girls have a half day of school on Friday. (Their school usually communicates this information in about eight different ways - I'm not sure how I missed this one.)
I don't know about everyone else, but this week has just about been my undoing.
Following my birthday and Stephen's last week, this week has included an after-school birthday party, 2 school Christmas parties, 14 teacher gifts to prep and deliver, trying to go get my hair done before Christmas, a doctor's appointment, a beloved dog who has not been putting weight on her back-right leg for 10 days and needs to see the vet, 2 car airbags that have been recalled and should be replaced before we travel for Christmas, Christmas cards that I'm stressed out about not getting out sooner - especially with a new address this year - presents to wrap, packages to ship... Sound familiar?
I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. I love, love, love Christmas, but...
Additionally, I have wrestled this season with Christmas - our Savior's birthday - versus Christmas - parties and presents and decorations galore. What has irked me even more than usual this year is the way that we're made to feel that it's wrong to talk about what Christmas is really all about, as Linus would say. I can't imagine deciding to celebrate Hanukkah because the parties and presents sounded fun to me, only to pull the "politically correct" card on anyone who dared to wish me a "Happy Hanukkah" instead of "Happy Holidays" or talk about the miracle of the oil when all I wanted to do was decorate my house with a menorah and enjoy eight days of gifts. How could I get in a huff about that if I were the one deciding to celebrate their holiday??? Grrr...
Last Sunday, however, our pastor preached one of the best Christmas - or any season - sermons I've ever heard. He opened by talking about not trying to reconcile the commercial Christmas with the real Christmas - attempting to do so will only drive us crazy - they are two different celebrations, and there's nothing wrong with Christians enjoying both. More importantly, he talked about why we need Christmas - the real one - explaining our need for a Savior in a way that brought the Old Testament and the New together with our lives today, touching hearts and minds alike. If you'd care to give it a listen, here's the link:
And so I left church on Sunday, feeling oh-so-Christmassy. Monday was mostly good, but then there was Tuesday. Frantic city. By Wednesday, I was nursing a 48-hour headache, snapping at Stephen, and thinking "I know that this is not what Christmas is all about."
And then our heat went out.
And I found out that the girls will be dismissed from school early on Friday.
And you know what I thought? "Thank you, God, that I am being forced to cancel the rest of my appointments for the week."
So I am sitting at the house, waiting for the repair man to arrive. My hair is not going to get cut today (or at all between now and Christmas). Oh, well.
I will not have time to leave the van at the dealership for four hours on Friday, so we'll have to get that taken care of on Monday.
Which means that while I'm stuck at home, I can finish addressing Christmas cards and wrapping presents (and write this blog post). And I can take our dog to the vet on Friday.
The girls' vacation from school will start sooner than I expected, and I am quite happy to have that much-needed break start a few hours earlier.
My epiphany for the day: The sin is not in enjoying all of the other stuff that goes along with this season; the sin is in not enjoying the season at all. When I'm cranky about doing things that should bring me joy - things that I do truly love to do for others, but are becoming stressful to-dos as the December calendar ticks on - that's when something has really gone wrong with this season. The problem with Christmas is not that others are spending billions of dollars in retail and don't know the point of the season (although I do pray for others to know Christ, too) - my problem with Christmas this week is me.
If there are things on our to-do lists that bring more stress than joy (for us and for our loved ones), may we cross them off - finished or not - and enjoy this season. In our home, we will bake some more cookies, put together wintry puzzles, watch Christmas specials, and read Christmas stories - including those about Santa Claus and the Nutcracker, as well as what happened that night in the manger more than 2000 years ago. May we rest, may we play, may we bring cheer. And may we remember what CHRISTmas really is all about.