My mom adventures in Fort Collins

21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 17
December 23, 2013, 10:24 am
Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , ,

So, I fell off the Gratitude train. It happens. I figured that some day I’d actually get around to finishing this Gratitude Challenge… no one said that the 21 days had to be consecutive, right?

A month goes by and there is more to be thankful for. Two days away from Christmas, and we’re just hunkering down for a while. The unstructured days will lend themselves to sleeping in, crafting, travelling, reading, laughing, game playing, time together and days without any agenda whatsoever.

Recent thoughts of gratitude:

  • Fires in the fireplace
  • Watching Christmas movies while snuggling with loved ones
  • Enjoying the treats that come with the season
  • Listening to Christmas tunes and singing Christmas songs
  • Discovering Abuelita-the Mexican Hot Chocolate kit they sell in grocery stores for about $3 (What a deal!)
  • Taking in the Christmas lights that are on display

There is a bit of “Christmas-fever” at our home. Symptoms include organizing the wrapped presents under the tree, and comparing the size of the stacks. It also looks like this: hoarding several flyers from the Sunday papers, complete with lovely hand-pasted letters to send to Santa Claus.

Everyone always says Christmas is too commercial. Even St. Francis of Assisi said way back before he was a saint that Christmas had it’s problems, and he wanted people to experience Christmas differently. (Read more about that here and here.) I think about that, too. I set out the Fischer Price Nativity scene ALL YEAR LONG, because I figure you can never have enough baby Jesus in your life. If Christmas is the celebration of Joy and Saving Grace coming into the world in a whole new way, why does the time leading up to this celebration feel wrought with running around, checking-off “To Do” lists, and stress.

The play set--we're missing a Joseph and a few shepards, one wise man... the price you pay for having the set out all year round

The play set–we’re missing a Joseph and a few shepherds, one wise man… the price you pay for having the set out all year round

For me, Christmas is completely dependent upon the “afterglow.” You know how you prepare for Christmas: buy food, bake, send cards, buy presents (after you hem and haw over the “perfect gift”), decorate and clean the whole house, travel, and go to great lengths to assure your family has a great experience. Is all of that fun? Not necessarily. You can make things as fun as possible, sure. But most of this becomes fun AFTER the fact. You are glad you did all the preparing, all the running around, and you are thrilled because despite the crazy-making, you helped make a memory for yourself and others. Therefore, if Christmas does not have an afterglow, it can feel like all your energy was wasted. It can feel exhausting and stressful.

It’s one of my very human qualities: I like to feel appreciated. I like to feel like someone was paying attention. So, if you have someone like this in your life, please notice them and say ‘thank you.’ There isn’t a lot of glory in cleaning toilets & laundering all the sheets, but it’s all part of the process in preparing for visitors. Maybe the gift-giving starts to feel a bit silly–a woman I know described her daughters’ teenage gift exchanges as “swapping gift cards.” Planning a dinner menu when everyone has different dietary concerns or allergies? Yet, all of this hard work means so much for the overall celebration. Let us all honor those who “prepare him room” in so many different ways. I believe this is my way of saying that I’m grateful for a sense of gratitude and appreciation in the people who love me. My prayer for anyone reading this is that you find a joyful, peaceful, nourishing and grateful Christmas.

Luke 2: 9-12  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”