Podcast 14: A calm Christmas greeting + slowing down for the new year

Hello and welcome to episode 14 of Life On the Brink, and a very Merry Christmas to you!

It certainly has been a challenging year, this is something we all know well. With that, this holiday season has been different from any we’ve experienced. We’ve had to be patient and creative, making adjustments here and there as we try to celebrate the season, such as it is.

But as we near Christmas day and the new year, why not take some time to slow down and give thanks?

The Christmas season can feel rushed during a normal year, and this year in particular it feels like it’s just rushing by. Maybe that’s because this year has somewhat felt like one long day.

But I, for one, am making an effort to slow down during this last week of the year to just enjoy. Whatever holiday preparations I’ve made are (mostly) complete, the gigs are few, and I have lots of time ahead of me.

Of course, the tendency for me, and probably for a lot of us, is to fill each day, each moment, with festive activity. Wrapping gifts, watching the holiday movies, drinking the holiday drinks, spending time with family, etc. All this can add up quick, especially when I want to curate every moment to be the “perfect” Christmasy moment. Naturally, this is exhausting, and can sometimes take the fun out of having so much time and opportunity to celebrate.

So, for the remaining days of 2020, including Christmas day and all its festivities, I am encouraging myself and everyone out there to slow down. Yesterday during a quiet moment of prayer, I felt the need to just let go. I can’t control every moment of Christmas any more than I could control the curve balls that this year threw at me, so why try to plan everything out now?

This is a time to enjoy, so I’m going to stop fighting the enjoyment.

I’d like to share a quote from one of my favorite books, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It pretty much sums up why I love this time of year and why it needs to be savored. This is a speech made by Scrooge’s nephew in the beginning of the book:

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say...Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round--apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that--as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.

And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

There you have it. Even if Christmas becomes, to some, a mad dash for gift buying and full of to-do lists and commercialized hurry (and I’m sure we all fall into that category once in a while), it is, in its essence, “a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.” It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s Christmas.

My friend Alice made this for me a few years ago, and now it hangs on my wall every year.

I’m putting this into practice by freeing myself to try and be a bit more spontaneous. I love structure and I feel like, especially in 2020, I’ve gotten really good at structuring days that otherwise would have been like a big bowl of mashed potatoes (having no structure at all). But right now at Christmastime I’m letting go of that, and saving these days for reflection and spontaneity and experiencing moments as they come, rather than planning out every day like I normally do. Especially during that week in between Christmas and the New Year, a week in between time and space, let those be days to reset and reflect. Don’t stress about it.

But, of course, the most important part of that whole paragraph is when he interrupts himself to say “apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that,” because, in fact, nothing can be apart from that. We enjoy our time with family, celebrate annual traditions, perhaps indulge in a little baking, but ultimately this is a season of thanksgiving for the one gift that none of us can ever give.

I think it was best put by Linus in the Charlie Brown Christmas special:

Why yes, I do have a Peanuts nativity scene, it goes right next to the Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding

in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them,

and the glory of the Lord shone round about them:

and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold,

I bring you good tidings of great joy,

which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,

which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe

wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the

heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,

good will toward men.”

(Luke 2:8-14)

As we enjoy these days of Christmas and the quiet week that leads into the new year, may we celebrate the time we’ve been blessed with. May we greater receive that gift that was given so many years ago, may we rest in the peace that comes from the Lord, despite whatever is going on here on this earth.

It’s my greatest wish that we all know that peace a little bit more this season.

From my home to yours I wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This Week’s Little Joy: The fact that Josh is home this week. His job announced a mini furlough/forced vacation for the three days before Christmas Eve, so it’s kind of like we’re both on Christmas break this week. It’s been very nice and slow and cozy and I love it.

What I'm Listening To: As I mentioned in last week's podcast, The 2009 A Christmas Carol is the best adaptation of the book, and one of my favorite movies of all time. Honestly, the soundtrack alone is probably 45% of that love, it's just so so good.

You can always just put on the movie too, that works.

Thank you so much for listening, friends. I hope you have a beautiful week, and I’ll be back next week for a special episode to close out 2020.

Merry Christmas!