I’m not really sure what it is that is making me SO PUMPED about Christmas, but I’m filled with anticipation and joy over the approaching holidays. I know that a lot of people would prefer to focus on one holiday at a time, but I think it is beautiful that the two biggest holidays of the year occur back to back. They perfectly compliment one another!

Merry Christmas from the Nevil Family!
Christmas last year (2014) in our home

Because Thanksgiving comes first, I find it to be a holiday that beats back the commercialization of Christmas.  There is still a gifts-centered, self-focused attitude that can creep in and steal your Christmas joy, especially the way that Black Friday follows Thanksgiving. But by spending time focusing and meditating and celebrating all that we have been given and are grateful for in Thanksgiving, and then by pausing with intentionality in the weeks leading up to Christmas, maybe we can rekindle a sense of wonder for this joyful season? Instead of isolating the two holidays, could we relish the way that they play off one another?

Thanksgiving is next week and my home is always an odd mixture of people I’m related to, whether by blood or by marriage, as well as the occasional smattering of more random guests. I love the traditions in our home of waking up and drinking lots of coffee with our house guests. I love the sounds of the Macy’s Day parade on the television. I love the idea of people coming over to simply be together. There are no gifts, there is no other point than to gather and to be with one another.

We catch up with local news from other States, we get on soap boxes and engage one another in conversations that may stretch us a bit-both in perspective and in patience, we listen to children running around sometimes complaining of being bored and everything points to this feast we are going to partake of all together. Unified in one place for the sake of celebrating, for the sake of gratefulness, for the sake of joy. Everyone is standing around waiting, waiting, waiting; The whole day is preparation for the feast! What a beautiful design. What a way to start the season of Advent. (Psst…Advent means coming!)

And then, have you seen this? Rei’s Opt Outside movement they are promoting? Instead of having some great black Friday deals, they are closing their stores and encouraging people to get outside into nature. I think they are on to something…

cropped-11141293_10153426144503933_2051468299558528271_o.jpg

…to come together, to celebrate with grateful hearts and then to sit quietly with it…

My friend Ashley recently reminded me of this beautiful Scripture from the Old Testament book Isaiah, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have none of it.”

I’ve noticed that the years where my heart is lacking in awe and wonder for the season are often the busiest ones-they are the ones where I would have none of the quietness I so longed for. The years where everything cascaded down and I wasn’t ready-I didn’t have a plan for quietness, I didn’t rest in what had been given, what has been done and what is to come.

So this year, with Thanksgiving a week away, with Christmas a mere few weeks away, I’m reaching and planning to compliment each holiday. I’m planning time of thanksgiving and of quiet. I’m planning times of rest and of joyful work. Not that it would be perfect or that I would have such excellent control, but that I would be thoughtful about what is going on and what I’m responsible for. Before I fill my calendar with one party after another (which I really love to do), I’m reminding my heart to plan for space so that wonder can enter in. I’m praying for hope to fill my heart of what is coming…

 

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