These days, Hannah wishes for a Christmas tucked away with her husband and kids in a little cabin in the woods somewhere, with no one telling them what to wear, how to celebrate or with whom, or what their obligations are.
I have to confess that I relate to Grace a little too much in this story. And I wonder how much I have imposed my own desire to share that spirit of Christmas charity with others, possibly even to the point of sapping the joy right out of the season for my own family.
As I run a caroling company, hints of Christmas start taking over the house early in the year. The auditions take place at the end of the summer. Pages and stacks of music cover the dining room table and kitchen counter tops for weeks. Phone calls, emails, and texts increase dramatically as rehearsals begin in the autumn, and people contact me to book the carolers for holiday tree lightings, shopping district promotions, festivals of lights, and holiday celebrations. Up to 30 costumes are laid out all over certain rooms as I check them for repair needs, assign them to carolers, and arrange to deliver them. And, then, just as the holiday music and decorations start popping up all over town, I’m either running off to add joy to celebrations for other people’s families to enjoy, or receiving calls and texts from carolers and clients, and managing the coordination of those events, remotely, possibly interrupting the seasonal joy my family might be experiencing together.
We do have Christmas traditions that we take time to observe. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are two days that I—except in case of a caroling emergency—do not work as a caroler myself. It is all about being together as a family. I’m glad we have that. But I can’t help but wonder what other quiet traditions I could have carved out time for. Now that my kids are young adults who are still with me during Christmas, I wonder if I can delegate some of the “busyness” of Christmas to others and help my family nurture a sense of Christmas peace—a figurative cabin in the woods, where we could gather winter fuel and imagine the saintly spirit whose charitable giving was not frenzied, but simply full of heart.
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