Two-thousand seventeen is twenty-eight days from being over. Christmas will be here in twenty-three days. I am not sure where 2016 went. It seems that it was just January 1.
Last year this time, I wanted to cancel Christmas and all its festiveness. I did not feel like celebrating. I was in the midst of grieving, though, and I could relate to the first line of the Christmas carol, “in the bleak midwinter.” I did not want to celebrate.
This year is different. I began thinking about how I would celebrate Christmas this year even though I am still grieving. I’m not sure I will ever stop grieving, but I am no longer mourning. This year, in fact last month, I put together a “December Daily” album. I have participated to some degree in Shimelle Laine’s “Journal Your Christmas” class for several years (I have the incomplete albums as proof). This year, I also joined Susannah Conway for “December Reflections.” My goal is to record the month of December in some way, whether it is through writing journal entries and putting them in my December book, or taking photographs, or crafting something. Shimelle’s first prompt in Journal Your Christmas is to write a Christmas manifesto. Here is mine for Christmas 2016:
This December I will
- SLOW down
- feel more JOY
- Express more LOVE
- ABIDE in moments of peace and quietness
- experience STILNESS amidst the bustle of the holidays
I think one reason I feel “Grinchy” and “Scroogy” so often during the holidays is that I push myself to do more than I should or even can. I get caught in busy-ness instead of the business of Christmas.
As a Lutheran, I live by two calendars: the “fiscal” calendar that begins on January 1 and ends of December 31, and the liturgical calendar that begins on the first Sunday in Advent, which is the four weeks before Christmas. Last Sunday, November 27, was the beginning of the new church year. Advent is supposed to a quiet time of waiting for the revelation of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. It is quietly celebratory, meditative, anticipatory. I want to live the Advent season this year, and I am using this creative project—the combination of December Reflections, Journal Your Christmas, December Daily, to help me live out the manifesto.
Today is Day 2 (I am one day behind). Today is time to slow down.