What is it about this time of the year that strikes fear in the hearts of grown men and women everywhere?
Is it the mounds of catalogues that are stuffed into our mailboxes enticing us with glossy pictures of turkeys and good linen and elaborate table settings? Is it the tinsel and trees and fake snow in fake windows at the shopping mall that tightens our throat and shortens our breath? Or perhaps it’s the expensive, calorie-laden holiday drinks that the barista is peddling that makes us groan and search for a quiet corner?
Or … is the look I see in the eyes around me actually a plea, a hope, a dream for a soft touch, a quiet love and a gentle walk to the closing of the year.
The truth is that for the holidays, as for many other areas of our life, it is the path we willingly choose that determines our journey. It can be a frantic frenzy that ends with feelings of failure and inadequacy. It could even end with us basking in triumph and personal glory over how special we made everything.
Or we can choose another way.
The one that stops long enough to suck in deep breaths taking in the smells of the season – which are free and a glorious gift from our creator.
The one that steps outdoors and takes determined strides and long walks in weather that soothes the body and restores the soul.
The road that delights in unexpectedly finding the colors of the season shimmering off sticks of berries in the morning solitude.
We could take that path.
The one that with a sincerely thankful heart sings, “For life and breath and daily food, we praise thy name O Lord.”
The one that looks to families and their imperfect gatherings as a blessing to be valued and not a burden to be endured.
The path that sees the cross of salvation in the birth of a child and humbly bends the knee in worship.
If we choose this way then perhaps the coming holidays will be holy days and the journey to the end of another year may be gentle and kind and authentically special.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12