Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas peace

This year's Christmas time is so much better for me than the last several years have been. I'm so grateful. I can't tell you how happy I am about that.

You know, I think what's really helping is the gift my husband gave me last year. Not an ordinary kind of gift at all. He gave me permission not to celebrate Christmas.

I had been doing so poorly, struggling so much with depression, a depression that had started a couple of months before the Advent season. I was truly a mess. Out of concern my husband said to me: "Marja, we don't have to do Christmas this year. We won't send out cards, we won't decorate, you don't have to bake. All we'll do is buy a few gifts for our son and his wife and for your mom." It was such a release to hear him say that. To think I could just forget about all the stress and busyness.

The interesting thing that happened was that within days I started to want to do Christmassy things. We didn't do cards and we didn't put lights on the house. But I did bake a few of my favourite cookies. And we had a tree and decorated the house. I was free to do as I wished.

Then, lo and behold, I decided to make calendars for my friends, using my photographs and bits and pieces from the Psalms. Immersing myself in this creative effort gave me comfort. It took away stressful feelings, making me forget about everything else. I found refuge in the work and I ended up with some very creative gifts for a dozen friends.

I think one of the things that makes Christmas so hard is the expectations we have of ourselves and expectations we believe others have of us. It's that long series of "have to's" that make the season so stressful. Celebration needs to come from a heart that "wants to" celebrate. How else can we truly, with a happy heart, celebrate.

Christmas is a holy time. It's a time to worship. It's a time to love. It's a time to draw close to God and to each other. I'm finding myself wanting more quiet times than ever this year. And those quiet times interspersed between the busy times make the celebration even more enjoyable.

This year I'm enjoying every little thing. I'm busy, but not too busy. I'm taking the days one at a time, with some work and time with friends, and some quiet time to journal and pray, listen to music, or watch a Christmas movie on TV.

I pray that you, too, are able to celebrate the Advent season with a heart that is joyful and at peace. Try not to think about what you have to do, but what you want to do.

6 comments:

More Than Conquerors said...

Dear Marja,

I am glad things are working out better for you and you are pacing yourself, and enjoying every little thing.

I am still learning to pace myself. I do often struggle with expectations I have of myself and expectations I believe others have of me. I am learning to let go and praying that God will help me to learn to manage better day by day so that I walk closely with Him and be effective in His service.

I am learning to enjoy little things too :)

Take care and God bless you and family!

With love and prayers,
Nancie

marja said...

Dear Nancie,

I think we could be sisters, in the things we struggle with and in the ways we try to overcome. And we ARE sisters, aren't we? Sisters in Christ.

Learning to pace ourselves is an on-going process and I don't know if we'll ever truly arrive. Not when we care for others and want to help others in the way you and I do - in the way we want to serve God.

We need to remember that the work we do is not ours, but God's. And all we have to do is be his hands and feet and voice and let Him do the rest. It does not have to be our burden. We can let God have it.

But you know all that, Nancie. And so do I. It's just remembering - each day.

I'm glad you're learning to enjoy the little things. I'm glad you're learning to pace yourself.

Praying that you will have a happy Christmas time. Praying that you will be well.

May God bless you and your family.

Love,
marja

Ashleigh said...

I just stumbled across your blog somehow and I am so glad I did. Your post was just like reading my own thoughts. It wouldn't hurt my feelings at all if we just forgot all of the hustle & bustle of Christmas this year and remembered it for the real reason.

-Ashleigh

marja said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Ashleigh. Yes, the hustle and bustle does take away, doesn't it.

However, today and yesterday I had a huge hustle and bustle. Thirteen people for lunch one day and fifteen for breakfast the very next. It was a bit much. But it WAS nice to have the together time too. A time to remember.

As long as I don't "expect" myself to do the same next year. As long as I only do what I feel up to.

Thank God for giving me the energy. Now for some peaceful music while I clean up.

shawnalyne said...

I so resonate with what you said about expectations--they suck the life out of us. So pleased that your husband gave you such a lovely gift last year--and that you are able to enjoy the season this year!
Joyous Christmas to you!
Shawn

marja said...

Shawn,

Thank you. And I wish you a joyous Christmas too.

marja