Photo Credit: Beth May, Copyright 2010
I'm a bit of a type A personality. If I'm doing something, I'm doing it all the way. No in-between for me. You can imagine what the holidays are like in our family. We go out to the tree farm and hand cut our tree; we have a tree decorating party that night with fancy drinks and fruit trays and hors d oeuvres (this is just for the five of us); we decorate inside and out; we bake multiple kinds of cookies; we wrap each gift ourselves; we make sure our Christmas cards are out the first week of the month; we listen to Christmas music; we DVR every Christmas movie we don't already own; we go into the city for special holiday activities (this year it was touring a historic mansion, but we've done ice skating downtown, carriage rides, candelit visits to the area's conservatory).
I love all of it. It doesn't feel like too much--well, not usually.
But, this year God is telling me something. He started out with Thanksgiving. We were all so sick with the stomach flu we had to postpone the holiday until Friday. It was nice, but not quite the same. My mom was still feeling badly when we left Ohio. We just assumed it was the virus. At the same time, back in Pittsburgh, my father in law had spent Thanksgiving in the hospital.
Over the past few weeks, my mom has not gotten better, but has undergone multiple tests and doctor visits. For the first time ever, she doesn't have any Christmas decorations up yet. (And, in case you were wondering, she's the one who cultivated in me my love for all things Christmas by setting the perfect example.) She suffers from multiple health issues, and it's hard for anyone--doctors included--to quickly pinpoint what exactly is wrong at a given time and come up with a quick course of treatment, but we are all optimistic that she'll get this flare or attack or event under control soon. We're saying lots of prayers.
My father in law ended up having surgery a little over a week ago. He's hanging in there. The surgery was necessary, and hopefully will get his condition under control, once he heals, but it will be a process. He's still in a lot of pain. We are saying many prayers.
We're also working through some other issues within our family--and we're just at the beginning of a long road to change. If you can imagine, it has been a serious November/December. My husband and I take refuge in the joy our kids bring, and we've been keeping up with the demands of everyday life, as we all must do, even in the face of sadness, or change, or even tragedy.
But, these things take their toll, and I've been feeling a bit down (which I hear is quite normal during the holidays; it's just never been the case for me before). You might think I'm leading up to say that I'm down because the events swirling around our families have conspired to put me behind in my holiday merry-making, but, somehow, they haven't. The house is decorated fully; the cards out; the carols and movies cranked full volume; the cookies begun.
But the price? No personal devotions, no blog posts (pretty silly that a Christian-themed blog has been silent during the first three Sundays in Advent), no down time.
As usual, my best friend and husband have to swoop in to remind me: Do you NEED to do this, or that, or that? Can't you simplify? Get help. Take a break. So I'm quieting down, calming down--asking myself with each little thing I pick up--do I really need to do this? Usually the answer is No. It's hard for the perfectionist in me. Really hard.
Ironically, I'm trying to slow down and be more thoughtful during the busiest time of the year. I have two different Advent devotionals that I'll talk about in my next post that are helping me. They're teaching me about waiting--a most appropriate attitude for Advent. Waiting for family members' health to improve, waiting for God's resolution to some weighty problems, waiting for the day we can rejoice in our Savior's birth--no matter what happens with our earthly concerns.