Today I ended up driving behind one of our small town’s municipal vehicles, and it was piled high with old Christmas trees heading for disposal of some sort.
Did I mention that today is December 31? That's the seventh day of Christmas.
For the first time this year, we stayed in our own space through the holidays. Family came to visit us at Thanksgiving, then other family came at Christmas, and then others came a few days after Christmas. Our house isn’t that big, but when you add in a few space heaters and air mattresses, we were all set. It was so nice to stay put for the first time in the nearly ten years I’ve been married and living away from home–partially because I’m 23 weeks pregnant and already achy and swollen and tired most of the time, and partially because we got to feel like Christmas was a real season.
And so here we are, on day number seven. Our tree is still up, and our stockings, and our nativity. The magi are still on the windowsill, patiently journeying. We’ve got the Christmas playlist still going on the iPod.
But the truth is, now that our company has left and the house is a bit quieter, I’ll confess that I’m struggling a little bit. I’m trying to resist the urge to move on to the next thing, and it’s harder than I expected. Usually, when we travel at the holidays, we get home around the time of Epiphany, and we’re a little in shock that the 12 days of Christmas are over. Since we’ve spent two days here, three days there, a day here, another few days there, and too many hours on the road, it’s easy for those 12 days to pass us by and not even realize it. We try to slow down after the fact, packing up our decorations slowly, savoring those last notes of Christmas carols. It doesn’t work very well.
I was looking forward to this year being different. And it was.
We got to be slow and patient, even with a house full of guests. We attended our home church on the 4th Sunday of Advent, on Christmas Eve, and on the Sunday following Christmas. We’ve never gotten to do that. Ever.
Our house is quiet now, and we’ve been catching up on laundry as we eat leftovers and more leftovers and more leftovers. Our child is napping in her own crib, in her own room. She keeps saying the names of her cousins over and over, as if she can conjure them up out of thin air, but she’s been happy and calm, playing with her first babydoll, wooden blocks, and kid-sized rocking chair.
But, to my surprise, I have had the urge to put the stockings away, especially when my one-year-old nephew tugged at them the other day. And this morning, I had five e-mails encouraging me to give a year-end donation to non-profits I really like because today is the last day of 2013. I also had an e-mail reminding me to turn my 2013 photographs into a photobook documenting this last year. WordPress sent me an e-mail with the statistics for Texas Schmexas over the last year–the most popular posts, most frequent commenters, most searched-for terms, you name it.
Also, the children’s sermon on Sunday was about New Years resolutions, and then we watched a silly New Years-themed movie last night that talked about making resolutions, and I’m all about list-making and resolving to do things, but PEOPLE.
It's still Christmas.
And then today, there was that darn truck of bare-naked Christmas trees, announcing for all the world to see that Christmas is over.
I’ll confess. I’ve got a poky personality. Everything I do, I do somewhat slowly. I like to sit and be quiet and think. When I bake, I like to take my time. When I chop vegetables, I like to take my time. I drink my tea lukewarm. When I pick up around the house, I poke around here and there and here and there and eventually the house is clean. I like to take my time.
(Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that pregnancy lasts nearly forty weeks and that you get so miserable by the end, or I’d never have enough time to get used to the idea of bringing a human being into the world.)
My point is that Christmas is only 12 days, and I think I probably need all twelve of those days to let it sink in, to fight the urge to move on to the next big thing.
Maybe it’s just me, but this year, I’m feeling rushed.
It's caught me by surprise.
So I’m going to work on being a little more patient, and allow myself to be a little poky. Enjoy feasting until January 6th. Sing a few more rounds of O Little Town of Bethlehem (especially Over the Rhine’s version, which is my favorite). Say “Merry Christmas” a few more times. Postpone making those resolutions in favor of breathing in the sweet, sweet spirit of today, of this season, of Christmas.
And I think I’ll leave those stockings up.
How about you?