First let me say, I promise that I am going to continue posts on the S.I.M.P.L.E. acronym after the first of the year!
For now, like many folks, our family has had much going on this holiday season and margin is tight. (Goodness how December gets away from me!) But, coming home from a Christmas gathering last night, as we passed by magical twinkling lights, whimsical inflated holiday characters, and serene nativity scenes, I found that I was smiling to myself in the car. It’s the small things that mean so much. I recounted in my mind some of the warm memories we are making in these weeks leading up to the celebration of Christ’s birth.
Beautiful hymns being sung in church and decorative lights, tucked into pine garland, swagging the balcony. Christmas cards being exchanged on the card tables where parishioners may leave greetings for one another each week. The lighting of the Advent candle wreath, and snow coming down outside so softly and quietly, blanketing the ground, and offering a sense of peace among the chaos of holiday preparations.
Just this week we attended our daughter’s holiday chorus concert, I enjoyed my small group Christmas gathering where we shared about our word of the year and played the plastic wrap party ball game. (Several minutes of pure entertainment!)
Bowling with co-workers, decorating the tree with my daughter, petting the new puppy across the street, and visiting with an elderly neighbor. Yesterday was an ugly sweater Christmas Party with extended family – never mind we were the only ones that went all out and looked more than a little silly! It was the time spent with family catching up and sharing our joys and a little fun that made it special.
Waving at Santa as he made his annual rounds to each house around the borough, on a fire truck, to wish the kids a Merry Christmas. One very memorable time was when we moved here and they blocked the road off for our daughter so she could approach the truck, and then Santa reached down and handed her a stuffed horse.
The annual life-sized crèche is up at St. John’s parish, and it isn’t Christmas until we stop by to admire it close up and marvel at the feeling of being a part of the most holy of nights. It is wonderful, and serene, and quiet. Silent and reverent, looking on at the scene and imagining all of those years ago. What it must have been like for each character depicted. What would it have been like to be there on that very night? I give pause and contemplate the true meaning of this season. It is not Santa, or all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, visiting and giving. While those are all important elements of celebrating the holiday season, the true meaning is God with us. A Savior, born of the Holy Spirit by a virgin girl, not much older than my own daughter, whose lot in life was lowly. I imagine Mary’s world to have been full of simple and direct purpose. Chosen for her loyalty and trust in God’s Plan for her life. Simple, direct, and honest.
What better example of attributes could we have for the coming year? As I plan ahead and set goals for what may come over the next 12 months I ruminate over those 3 meaningful words… Simple. Direct. Honest. I realize that this has become the reflection of my own needs as I continue the journey toward simplicity, and I know that I want this all of the time. Not just during the holiday season when all seems magical and we’re immersed in a more giving spirit. I have come to require my day to day life, with all of its ins-and-outs, and ups-and-downs, to be a place of slowing down, shaking off all that is unnecessary. Attitudes, grudges, over-spending, procrastination, possessions, inclinations, or whatever else is standing in the way of a simple, meaningful, more deliberate lifestyle. And I will continue to strive for simplicity through direct and honest assessment of my home and myself.