Our final Christmas preparations may be turning into a frenzied rush to get things completed. We realize now that what seemed like four weeks of Advent is just but a few days. Even the Sunday Gospel speaks of Mary making haste to visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39).
With so many things as yet incomplete, I find myself making mental lists and planning out what I’m going to do when. While that does include things like attending Christmas parties and meeting up with friends, I have to be careful that in my rush to remember my lists and plans, that I don’t hasten too quickly through these events and miss them completely. For example, I had a checklist of what I was going to do after the Christmas Holiday party at work. All day I felt myself checking the clock to see when it was going to start and then reminding myself of what I wanted to accomplish afterwards. Eventually the party began, and as I made the rounds to chat with folks from other departments with whom I don’t usually interact, I kept checking the time thinking about getting my errands done. It wasn’t until I sat down with one friend who really needed someone to listen, that I recognized my checklist had to be pushed off for another day. I had to stop and be in that moment, giving the gift of my time. Once I made that decision to spend the time talking with her, I was able to enjoy her company and appreciate the gift of friendship.
In my lovely little kitchen everything is in easy reach, but when I try to rush to get things done, I find I have a case of the butterfingers and things fall or drop from my hands. I can quickly get frustrated, even while listening to cheery Christmas music. While my target each year is to make seven different kinds of cookies, Christmas will come whether or not I finish. A few types of cookies are staples, ones that my Mom made only at Christmas and I grew up associating with the season. I always push myself to make at least one new recipe a year, to keep trying new things. A few other kinds are ones that I haven’t made in a while or hit recipes from a previous Christmas. The point to making those cookies is to share them with family, friends and co-workers, renewing old memories and making new ones. So as I pick up the measuring cup and begin to wash it for the umpteenth time, or cleanup the snowfall effects of the powdered sugar all over the counter, I need to smile and remember that I’m not competing in a bake-off competition, but pouring my love into my baking to share with others.
Trees do not decorate themselves, cookies do not bake themselves and presents do not wrap themselves; this is all true. But these activities are ways we choose to demonstrate the love we have for others. Following Jesus’ example, we offer ourselves to each other: our time, our companionship and the work of our hands. Haste may be needed in some preparations, but if we keep moving too fast, we just might miss the truly blessed moments when they arrive.