As a child, my daddy had the most annoying habit on Christmas day. He’d gather us around the Christmas tree to open presents. That’s not the annoying part. No – the annoying part was where we’d have to wait. Wait for our turn to open gifts and Watch as everyone opened each of their gifts. Waiting and watching. Watching and waiting.
Why all the pageantry? In hindsight, it was all fitting. In lean years, Christmas seemed like more than it was. In abundant years, well . . . Christmas seemed like just a little more.
As I grew older, I incorporated Daddy’s Christmas torture into my own holiday traditions. The girls, Brooke especially, voiced displeasure with the waiting and watching. (See how I knocked out two birds with one stone there. #momgoals)
Too often, I get frustrated with the waiting. I want it now. Yet, we always seem to be waiting on something – until we are old enough to stay up until 10; until we get to high school; until we are old enough to vote; until we are head off to college; until we find that one true love; until we have children; until we retire . . .And,
we I don’t just wait. We I drive that train at supersonic speed.
We rush through our days. We rush through our lists. We rush through our traditions. Traveling at lightspeed, the everyday miracles blur in our periphery. From time to time, the big ones catch our eyes, but the little ones whiz right by.
Daddy’s infuriating tradition was really about the watching. It was about due time. It is about dialing down the days. It is about lingering through our lists. It is about treasuring our traditions. It is about putting on the brakes.
It’s about the journey.
Does anyone else have a little pillow – maybe cross-stitched or lettered in felt – that reads “The Little Things are the Big Things”? Okay, maybe it’s just me. Brooke used to make fun of me and that corny little pillow. Yet, at some point, she moved it from the sofa to her bed. I’m sure if she were here, she’d give me some perfectly logical reason for pilfering my pillow. But, I’d like to think that she took the meaning of it to heart. There certainly was a great deal of evidence that she did. For a “kid,” she took a lot of time for family and friends and strangers. This is what watching is all about.
Slow down. Bask in the glory of the mundane miracles – an unexpected visit from a friend; a child toddling through their first steps; a smile from a stranger; finding a twenty in your coat pocket; dinner on the table at the end of a long, full day; Thursday Night Football; learning to canter; the sound of wind chimes paying it forward in the drive-through line; setting up your first apartment; showing your black thumb who’s boss; white lights on a fresh Christmas tree; baking fresh cookies for a neighbor; matching stockings; watching Elf on a Silent Night . . .
It’s about seeking authentic joy even when the road is bumpy.
Dear Lord, give us eyes to see through the monotony of daily life. Help our hearts muse at the mundane. Enlighten us to the “little” things. Send your Spirit to fill ours with authentic joy as we strive to dial down our days and to linger through our lists. Let our traditions honor your traditions. As we celebrate the birth of your Son, Jesus, remind us what it really means to wait and to watch.