Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Difference of Christmas

Y'all know how I love a good plan. There are few things I love more than creating lists and accomplishing tasks and checking things off.  Seriously, it's so bad that when my friend finished her back-to-school shopping last year and wondered out loud how she was going to find the time to sort and label the mountain that is four kids' school supplies, one of them actually said to her, "Why don't you call Ms. Jen?  You know how much she loves to do stuff!"  I'm not even joking.  And it's true.  When I'm faced with two weeks off of work to celebrate the holidays, my default reaction to is start making a list of everything I want to do during the break.  I'm nothing if not intentional... especially with my time.

And this year?  Oh my, this year my plan for Christmas break was a good one.  Cleaning, writing, catching up at the office, sorting and decluttering in preparation for my move, and of course the usual baking, shopping, and celebrating that comes with the season.  And in between all of that, I was also going to take care of five dogs and two cats while their owners traveled for the holidays.  All in all, these two weeks were going to be just what I needed to recharge and whip things into shape.

The problem with having such a detailed plan is that things rarely happen the way we, well, plan for them to.  If you're a list-maker like me, then you also know how much God loves to derail our well-thought-out plans and instead likes to surprise us with things that keep us on our toes (and our knees).  As my luck would have it, I ended up coming down with the flu the last week before vacation.  So much for productivity!  Nothing says slow down like four days in bed, but even after I started to feel like myself again, the precedent for my vacation had been set:

Do what you can, and don't worry about the rest.

As it turns out, "doing what I can" meant not doing a bit of writing-related work.  I didn't blog, edit, or check Twitter for nearly three weeks.  I spent a total of 2 hours cleaning (yesterday) and a mere 3 hours at work trying to dig myself out of the hole I'd created while I was out sick.  I gave 3 Christmas gifts and sent 0 cards.  I spent what felt like hours driving from one end of town to the other, checking on, feeding, and snuggling with my furry friends.  I took daily trips to the park in an attempt to wear out a 3-month-old puppy.  I read when I had no energy to get out of bed, went out with friends when I did, and got to enjoy an impromptu visit with family.  I baked, but only half the number of cookies I normally do.

In other words, I didn't cross many things off my list, and I don't have many accomplishments to show for my almost three weeks off.  Nothing went the way it was supposed to.  A week in, I began to long for Christmas to be over because then I could get back to the life that involved a schedule and getting things done.  This life was different, and I wasn't sure I liked it.  Some time last week, it hit me.

Christmas is supposed to be different.  

When God sent His Son to live among us, He changed everything.  Nothing is what it was before. With the first cry of that tiny infant, He turned the world upside down.  It only makes sense, then, that those who thrive on going and doing and accomplishing should be forced to slow down.  Especially during the holidays. Christmas isn't about a lot of things the world tries to tell us it is.  It's about celebrating the day the world changed.  And even though I didn't spend my Christmas vacation like I thought I would, wrangling my messy life back into order, I experienced that change in my own way.  I was reminded of what really matters.  And even though I had a hard time accepting the difference of Christmas this year, my prayer for the new year is that things would stay different... because different is what happened when Christ came to dwell among us. 

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