what i'm not doing.

We’re a few days into December, which means it’s definitely the Christmas season (even if you’re not one of those people who starts listening to Christmas music in September, like I am). I don’t know about you, but in between buying gifts, holiday events, and the stuff of normal everyday life, December can feel like three-ring circus, and it’s easy to miss the whole point of it all for all of the things we have to do (just like the innkeeper).

When you add my upcoming surgery (which has added a new holiday deadline) and a full week away training for work, I’m looking for ways to slow the frantic pace we could easily adopt. With that in mind – here is a list of things I’m not doing this year:

Christmas cards – I like getting them, and even like sending them, but not this year.

Extensive Christmas decorating – I was actually thinking of just limiting our decorations to the tree and the Nativity, but lucky for me, M did all of the heavy lifting here (usually when I was out of house). Even the clean up.

All handmade gifts – I’ve made a few things, but with the exception of a couple things to finish up this weekend, I’m sticking with purchased items. Still personal, but a lot less time involved.

Avoiding gift cards – Normally I try to avoid giving gift cards, because they feel impersonal. This year, I’m giving in – especially for a few hard-to-buy-for family members.

Christmas baking – I got all inspired at Michaels a couple of nights ago and bought disposable loaf pans, thinking I might make some homemade zucchini bread for my neighbors. Or maybe cookies. Who knows? But if I just don’t get around to doing this, they’ll keep until next year. Or even the year after.

Creating (or buying) many new Christmas decorations – This year, I’m sticking to what I already have.

How do you make sure you slow down and enjoy the Christmas season?

the innkeeper.

I heard this at church yesterday morning, from Frederick Buechner’s The Magnificent Defeat. I’m working on a post about some of the things that I’m not doing this Christmas season, in an attempt to slow down the crazy. In the meantime, read this – because I think missing the miracle for the trees is certainly not a new problem.

"I speak to you as men of the world," said the Innkeeper. "Not as idealists but as realists. Do you know what it is like to run an inn-to run a business, a family, to run anything in this world for that matter, even your own life? It is being lost in a forest of a million trees," said the Innkeeper, and each tree is a thing to be done. Is there fresh linen on all the beds? Did the children put on their coats before they went out? Has the letter been written, the book read? Is there money enough left in the bank? Today we have food in our bellies and clothes on our backs, but what can we do to make sure that we will have them still tomorrow? A million trees. A million things.

"Until finally we have eyes for nothing else, and what-ever we see turns into a thing. The sparrow lying in the dust at your feet-just a thing to be kicked out of the way, not the mystery of death. The calling of children outside your window-just a distraction, an irrelevance, not life, not the wildest miracle of them all. That whispering in the air that comes sudden and soft from nowhere-only the wind, the wind…

"Later that night, when the baby came, I was not there," the Innkeeper said. "I was lost in the forest somewhere, the unenchanted forest of a million trees. Fifteen steps to the cellar, and watch out for your head going down. Firewood to the left. If the fire goes out, the heart freezes. Only the wind, the wind. I speak to you as men of the world. So when the baby came, I was not around, and I saw none of it. As for what I heard -- just at that moment itself of birth when nobody turns into somebody-I do not rightly know what I heard.

"But this I do know. My own true love. All your life long, you wait for your own true love to come-we all of us do-our destiny, our joy, our heart's desire. So how am I to say it, gentlemen? When he came, I missed him.