It's a hard year for finding the joy in Christmas. So much stress and strife everywhere that the joy is being pushed aside, covered up, diminished. Maybe we're just looking in the wrong places. Maybe our hearts are so heavy that hope is having difficulty floating to the top. Maybe we are letting too much distract us.
I've not one decoration out yet. Not one, not even our tree. How can we be so busy that we can't prepare for Christmas? Oh, I know it's not about decorations. It's about the heart.
I've been struggling lately. A combination of things have contributed to this and I find I've been so distracted by my wallowing that I've forgotten to look for Christmas. But I found it. I'm still finding it.
I found Christmas through Liz at Mabel's House as she wrote about a good friend who is dying. There is Christmas in the bond of their relationship and the hope that there is a rhyme and a reason in this circumstance, not yet understood.
I found Christmas in the face of a child. Just months old, his beautiful smile melts my heart. In his eyes, I spy the awesomeness of generations past, whose love through the ages make his life possible. I look into his eyes again and I see the hope of the future and it's good. It's all good. Not necessarily easy, but good nonetheless.
Christmas showed itself in the kindness of colleagues offered to me in a time of stress. A simple gesture offered, really, but huge in its message. I found comfort. I found Christmas.
Christmas was left on my desk this morning. I left for a meeting and upon my return, found a home-made French Silk pie and a heart-warming note. Just what was needed at the beginning of a day designed to be difficult. My stomach was in a knot, but my heart was warmed.
And there was Christmas again today as I helped lead a group of people through a difficult day of conflict resolution. It was agony to watch as individuals struggled to move outside their comfort zones, sometimes passively, sometimes aggressively. I believe there just may be claw marks under the table as some clung so tightly to held beliefs, trying so hard not to give, trying hard to be right despite facts to the contrary. It was painful to watch good people behave badly. I did not see total resolution, but I saw movement. I'll take movement. And I saw Christmas in the hearts of those with the most to lose, those who had good reason to withdraw, to self-protect, to lash back because they didn't. They took great risk, they took a chance, and they grew. What a gift to watch.
And in a room full of children with challenges, I saw Christmas. Their faces aglow as they nodded and clapped without a lick of rhythm as a young teacher shared and played his dulcimer. And, oh, there was Christmas in his face, filled with such tenderness, and in his demeanor, greatly patient, as he answered their questions---"no," he didn't know the theme to Six Flags amusement park, and "yes," they could touch the instrument, and "sorry," he will learn Rudolph for next year. And Christmas was there again in the face of a young girl, so thrilled to be invited to sing Jingle Bells with her teacher as they led her classmates through the song.
Christmas is coming and I'm preparing. I may not be preparing my house, but I'm preparing my heart. I am now seeking Christmas and I am finding it.
I write for me.
What's up with those shoes, you may ask? After driving 30 minutes to work one fine day, I looked down as I got out of the car and saw this. Good thing I work with middle school students! I used it as a teachable moment to show them how one could survive something stupid and laugh at oneself in the process. Invariably, whenever I wear the "giraffe" shoes, a student will comment that, "Hey, you're wearing the same shoes today!"