Last year we missed Christmas.
I mean, we opened presents and drank egg nog and everything, but somehow none of us felt like we had a Christmas.
This year, I want it to be different.
A few weeks ago I was overcome by the sensation that I was not alive. I was a person who lived in her head, constantly formulating blog posts and essay ideas. I was a person who read great books half the time and thought about what I’d read the other half of the time. I was a robot, physically going through my duties as wife and mama, yet not awake.
This Christmas, I want to be awake.
For starters, I’m writing less. With my book just out, I’ve already been blogging less, but, as far as marketing goes, am still writing a ton. The other day a friend described her exhaustion by saying she was too tired to put together simple sentences. That’s how I feel, which really stinks when putting sentences together is my job. Regardless, I need to write less not just for my own rest and rejuvenation, but because writing less means I’m more available to the people I love most. Writing the book took me away from them (not physically, but in every other way) and it’s time to reclaim that time. It’s hard to come out of the comatose state of a long writing project, but it’s what I need to do.
Second, I’m reading less. I tend to have half-read books everywhere I go. The Cellist of Sarajevo is in the car. My Bible and One Month of Italy is next to my bed (I have to keep bedside books to a minimum or I’m so excited to read I cannot sleep). I have Sparks cards on varying subjects in every bathroom. I have books on tape to exercise to and books on my desk and books on the coffee table. I keep magazines next to the kitchen table. Keeping books nearby ensures I will never have a bored moment and I cannot bear bored moments. Thus, during even short gaps in conversation, I can be found reading. It sounds good and smart, but really it is an addiction that keeps me from never being present, even when my body is eating a sandwich next to my babies. All that to say, I’m focusing on one book at a time, at least until I can stand it no longer.
Third, I’m doing less. I’ve cleared my to-do list for the month of December. You will not find me painting a room or getting the carpets shampooed. I am not going to do any housework that does not have to be done. I’m creating no projects, except Christmas-related ones. Meals will be old standbys, giving me the time and mental space to create something other than a frantic, Baby Jesus-less Christmas. Tacos, anyone?
As a family, we’ve made a list of our favorite Christmas activities. Ian and I sat down with our (as yet empty) December calendars and penciled in each activity. If you ask us to dinner on the 22nd, we will have to decline; we are baking for the neighbors that night. In years past, when we wait too long, the fun and meaningful traditions get squeezed out by the obligatory. Now, fun and meaningful get first priority.
Although it’s been said, many times, many ways…Christmas simply cannot be rich if we do not clear space for it. What can you put off until January to make time for Christmas? How can you simplify your December so that you have cushions of free time around your obligations? How can you design your month so that you arrive at Christmas Day feeling refreshed enough to actually contemplate it’s meaning?
Whatever you do, don’t wait. You don’t want to miss Christmas.