This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every moring: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3: 21-26

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ready or Not...

Christmas comes whether we are prepared or not.

For a woman often referred to by friends and family, alike as “Miss Merry Ho-Ho”, for a person who has almost always decorated the day after Thanksgiving (sometimes earlier), for someone who has loved Christmas even when things were bad…for this holiday junkie, Christmas almost didn’t make it to my house this year.

Oh…not the real Christmas, not the real Reason of the Season, Advent has been especially helpful to me this year. The sights and sounds may have looked “normal” around here, but the heavy waiting of Advent has been preparing my heart. The two books I have been reading are great helps, I highly recommend Preparing for Jesus by Walter Wangerin, Jr. and Christmas out of the Advent Box by Benjamin Husted and his family.

But the “Holly Jolly” Burl Ives, Bing Crosby “Silver Bells” Christmas wasn’t appearing.

And I was okay with that. In fact I was really ready to crawl into a hole and pretend that it all was not happening. I’ve told some of you this already, but last Christmas I put so much work into making it special and at the same time normal for everyone, that I think I was too busy to notice how hollow I was.

This year, however…I ran out of steam. And it became glaringly obvious.

I am pretty confident the painting project wasn’t my best and brightest planning. The outcome is great (photos to come), but the timing….Ehhhhhhh…hmmmmmmm…

The Nutcracker the boys participate in doesn’t help much, I am sure. Much as they love it, as I love it, as wonderful as the opportunity of performing with a professional company is, the rehearsal schedule combined with the class schedule of two is grueling. We were at the school seven days a week from mid-October to the week after Thanksgiving. The week after Thanksgiving was dress rehearsals, sometimes lasting until past 10 p.m. The easy part is when it’s performance time. People look at me like we are nuts (and I am sure we are) but the boys are in ten of the twenty shows the company does. But we are done with classes and so the performing is the “fun” part.

There has always been a fear in the back of my mind that we would get too caught up in it and forget that Nutcracker is not synonymous with Christmas—it is a cultural icon, a lovely tradition, but it is not the real reason.

Because of celebrating and participating in Advent this year, I think our focus readjusted a bit, I know it was lifesaving for my focus. Next year I plan to really have a lot more prepared so that we might open our hearts more to the Babe in the manger who becomes the Savior on the Cross of Calvary. But I am learning that if my focus is off, the family follows quickly.

Blogging has taken a back seat this year. Last year I posted often starting with this and ending with that and a lot in between. I had so much I wanted to share this year…but so often felt God’s hand on mine saying, “Don’t touch that keyboard.” So I listened most often. I’m sure not well enough, but I tried.

Early on I thought I would participate in Boo Mama’s Tour of Homes. I had a wonderful time with that last year. But there was no way I was going to make the start of it on the 15th. I didn’t start putting up decorations until Saturday.

And I finally finished today. At about 5 p.m. (those photos also forthcoming--and it makes last year look simple).

For me there was a lot of emotional baggage involved with decorating. I inherited so many of my mother’s, countless ornaments, I can recall a memory associated with almost every one. Some remind me of people I’m missing who have died, relationships that have lost their bloom, bitty babies that have grown to large and active boys. There also is a lot of soul searching about whether my decorating is the best use of my time and if someone would see Christ in my Christmas. Lots of praying.

Shopping this year has been odd. I picked up some things in September and October, little odds and ends. I had my sister’s family done…but my own family? I just was not “feeling it.” Doesn't that sound awful? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to give gifts to my sons. I have no problem with giving (although I have great issue with commercialism). I just didn’t feel like shopping.

So my dear, sweet husband has done almost all of the Christmas shopping for me. As I said, I had some small items squirreled away, but he braved the masses and the throngs so that I didn't have to do that. And to be really honest, I don't know that I could have. He must have seen the look on my face when I told him I really didn't feel like I care about much right now.

My boys are full of hugs and help, offering to do chores outside their assigned and checking on me to see how I am.

And right now I am okay.

This wasn’t one of my most cheery posts, but sometimes honesty is the best policy. I've dealt with depression on and off most of my adult life and have found that when I confront it head on and call it what it is, I am able to ask for help more and most important pray more during the dry times.

Sometimes the pray is little more than, "LORD, please..." or "Oh, Father..." and I run out of words, but He knows what needs to be said. It is times like these that I turn to the prayers that I learned as a child or the wisdom of those who have walked before and I cling to their words.

I’ve found that I actually have been able to focus and pray for others more this year. Know that if I’ve promised to pray for you or a family member I’ve been doing just that. While this is a season of wonder and rejoicing it doesn’t mean that there still aren’t many needs out there.

One of my younger friends, a still “new” mommy, has shared that she too is having a hard time with all of the “stuff” that her family associates with Christmas. She’s been asking me if she’s “odd.” I’ve told her I think her heart is just right and that it sounds like God is wanting to make big changes in her life. I think she’s a little scared of that.

I know I am. I feel like I am headed for changes to. Changes aren’t comfortable—even the good ones sometimes are full of growing pains. I just pray that I am ready to say “Yes LORD!”

I think my wrapping of heaviness is starting to come off slowly. I’m hoping my next posts are more fun and uplifting. Hopefully I won’t be regaling you with my “rogue” taco sauce woes—but if that is what shows up, so be it.

Praying you are feeling anticipation for the coming of the Christ.

Offer Him your gift,

Julie

6 comments:

Linds said...

Julie, it is always better to be honest about how you feel, and I will be praying for you. You are tired too, and that doesn't help. How proud you must be of the boys! Please post some photos later.

By the way, a new blogging friend of mine spoke of how she spent the time decorating her tree praying for people as they came to mind. I think that is a beautiful idea. It means that when she looks at the tree now, she is reminded of specific people. I am going to remember that next year.
Be gentle with yourself. Depression is an illness, and it takes time, my friend.
I am sorry I have not been commenting much lately...I am reading but just have not had time to write that much!

Carrie said...

Julie,

Sometimes we get so caught up in the trappings of Christmas that we lose the meaning of Christmas. Good for you that your Advent has been meaningful. I'm not sure mine has been. Between my parents having to go take care of my Grandmother and me having to take care of their mail, plants, etc, working, shopping, baking, cleaning and volunteering at church and our totally stinky weather, I've been so busy that I've barely had time to think about Christ. I make it to Mass each morning (except yesterday and today) and that helps, but I need to slow down and pray more. I have good intentions and all that, but you know what they say about that.

I hope that you can shake your"wrapping of heaviness" and enjoy the season.

luvmy4sons said...

December started off the same way for me. So many changes. So many things gone that were once but are no more. Then I made myself work on ten days worth of blog posts that focused on Christ! Boy did that help me! Funny how God works differently in each. For you it was NOT to touch the key board. For me it was to work ahead on the blogging! LOL! I don't think you are alone. Many struggle with the holiday...Keeping our eyes on Christ is key! Love to you!

Barbara H. said...

I always appreciate honest posts. I remember once on a TM e-mail list, I was a little afraid to say when I was having down days lest it somehow reflect negatively on the testimony I wanted to maintain among the non-Christian people there, until another Christian lady came along who was beautifully transparent yet even at her low points manifested trust in the Lord. We talked about it a bit and I came to realize that if everything I wrote was always upbeat and cheery, it was not only dishonest, but it couldn't minister to someone else in their low points who needed someone who could relate.

I've had some years I wasn't as much "into" Christmas as others.

My husband did a lot of our shopping online this year. Contrary as I am, part of me was feeling left out, feeling like I was missing doing the shopping, but as super-busy as I was this week, I have been so grateful that most of it was done. I've been able to do some for him and his mom and a few little things here and there, but it was not the burden it often can be. I hate to even say burden -- I do enjoy giving, but sometimes the logistics can cause stress when combined with other holiday activities as well as the everyday household stuff that still needs to get done.

Michelle M. said...

I can definitely relate! This year, Christmas just doesn't feel like Christmas. And, I am definitely not focusing on the real reason for Christmas as much as I should be. My decorations are pathetic- but I don't care all that much this year. I am hosting Christmas as my house this year, but it is definitely going to be casual this year. Since we have so many people, it is just going to be a buffet, which is completely fine with me :) Less work! As for shopping, I am usually done in October and this year I have barely started. It will all get done, I'm sure. But I am choosing not to stress out about it :)

Thanks for sharing and being open and honest.

Renee said...

Julie, thank you for such an honest and open post! My prayers are with you and your family.