I’m giving myself grace this Christmas.
I don’t know about you, but it’s been a weird holiday season for me. There have been moments of gentle peace followed by periods of high stress intermingled with extreme busyness and even quiet sadness.
I could point to several things and say, “We could have done that differently, or not at all.” But some lessons are only learned by doing. And now we know.
I could point to weeks on the calendar and say, “That’s not at all how I envisioned those days would go. Where has the time flown?”
But time stops for no man (or woman). I suspect I’m not the only one wondering how the hourglass has suddenly become so bottom heavy. And though regret is a tempting companion, I’m finding that presence is even more inviting.
I could beat myself up because it was Dec. 16 before we ever cracked open Luke 2 to start our semi-regular bedtime readings of the Christmas story. But then the girl who’s reading it out loud (because somehow during the last year, the print in her Bible got too small for me to decipher) interrupts the familiar narrative with a question.
“What about the sheep?” she wants to know.
Huh, I think. What exactly did those shepherds do with their flocks when they ran off to see the baby in the manger?
“Did God cast a spell on them so they would stay in one place?” she asks.
Her follow-up question might make me question how effective I’ve been at teaching my children biblical truth (including the fact that God doesn’t “cast spells”). Instead, I smile at her first inquiry—something I’ve never even thought to ask, in all the years I’ve been hearing the Christmas story.
It’s what sets Christianity apart from every other religion in the world. It’s the real reason—not just for this season, but for every season.
It’s what keeps me from feeling guilty for collecting Santa Clauses instead of getting into Advent calendars, for not sending out Christmas cards, for not participating in the holiday choir at church, for not worrying about whether we are making enough “special” memories this year.
If I give myself grace for Christmas, perhaps it will be easier to extend that grace to others in the coming New Year.
Freely received, freely given.
A quick note … I’m taking a short break from blogging next week but will be back again after the first of the year. In the meantime, I’ll be praying that your holidays are full of joy, peace, hope and (especially) grace.