The beginning of December marks the legitimate start of the festive frenzy. Magazines and blogs have been encouraging us for weeks in order that we can be 'ready'. Decorating, baking, gifting, entertaining, dressing - the guides abound for every area. It is easy to get totally sucked in and whirled around, then spit out the other side .... exhausted and unfulfilled, wondering what happened and why.
A good friend suggested that it would be a good exercise to think back to last year - to remember how we felt at the end of the season and on what we wish we had spent our precious resource of effort. The thought really resonated with me and has been constantly at the back of my mind ever since. I know that I don't wish I had baked more cookies or wrapped a few more presents. I don't regret that I didn't buy new Christmas decorations or have Christmas in Hawaii. I am not sure that I do have any significant regrets but the things that I remember and treasure are snuggling with a child and a book in a quiet corner, the mess (and satisfaction) of baking simple cookies with my daughters and grandkids, the joys of being together.
The beautiful trimmings are just that - beautiful trimmings. And I like them. But they are not what make Christmas work for me. All the trimming in the world - be that trimming food, or a pile of gifts beautifully wrapped (or not), or an exquisitely decorated home - doesn't create the love and warmth that happy memories are made of. It is the mindful living of each moment. The knowledge that those moments cannot be recalled and lived again but are precious motivates me to take the time to really connect with the people I love. To snuggle a little longer with a sweet two year old. To take the minutes it takes to teach a six year old to crochet. To listen to a wish list or not mind that things aren't perfectly arranged but are perfectly perfect because we are happy and warm and there is love.
Our Christmas tree is decorated and prettily so but it was not until this evening when our grandchildren looked at it with shining eyes that it became magical. It is that sharing that makes the whole of December so blessed. Perfect doesn't matter - doesn't even exist. Together does.
So I will bake cookies and make candies, sew pajamas and Christmas dresses, shop and primp and wrap. But under and over it all I want to be very careful and sure that at the end of the day the people I love really feel the love I have for them. That I am not so busy with the unimportant that I am drained of the important. No one will be aware of the gift I don't make or the cookie not baked but the memory of warmth and love and closeness will never be forgotten. To make those memories is my Christmas wish.