As I sat at my desk to write this article I thought about what I wanted to say. I could tell you about our Adopt-A-Book fundraiser that we launched this month, and how we have already made it to 33 books of our 100-book goal! I could express how absolutely excited I am to get those new books in and know that we are expanding our collection with books our patrons want to read. I could also tell you all about our big Christmas Around the World Program that we hosted at The Hope Center for our 1st and 2nd graders; how much the kids enjoyed learning about Christmas in other countries, and how wonderful our country hostesses and volunteers were. I could tell you how it warmed my heart to have different students come up to me that I recognized from other programs and say, “Hey, I remember you! You are the library lady, you helped me find that book!” Yes, I could tell you about all those things. But, as I sat down to write, I was very much aware of the deadline to get this article in. I found myself wanting to dash out a quick little piece and check it off my list. And that got me to pause and think. I actually love writing! I consider myself a writer. The process gives me joy and I take pride in my finished work, and what’s more, I love the opportunity this article gives me to share and connect with this community. Here I am letting my busy schedule get in the way of what I like to do. But you know, that is just how ‘busy’ works, isn’t it? It gets in the way of joy.
This is my favorite time of year. I just love it! The general feeling of merriment, the romance of lights and decorations, the crackling of a wood stove, Christmas carols and cocoa, and fresh fallen snow (I can dream, can’t I?). And it’s a season where people generally excuse those (we will name no names) who go around singing, sometimes very loudly, and possibly dancing in the Wal-mart isles to Christmas music. All this can simply be chalked up to festive spirits. “‘Tis the season to be jolly”, they say. Though, “Tis the season to be busy,” is closer to the truth.
I say this is my favorite holiday, yet it seems that every year I get busier. Shopping for presents, planning events (hello, Christmas Around the World!), attending parties, decorating, baking, traveling. We add more and more to our calendars. But in all the busy-ness, like myself writing this article, we can easily miss the joy in the doing. In the hustle of the season, it doesn’t take much to rush through our activities without really noticing those around us. We drop coins in the bucket, and give toys to the drives, but are these just another check on our list? I know for me, it can be.
This month’s Book Club read was The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson. Themes in this book were really what got me thinking about this busy-ness thing. In brief, our main character, Joy, was a sweet, spunky grandma who decided before moving into a nursing home she was going to set out on one last adventure…a cross country motor home trip to spread Christmas joy to those in need. Enter our second main character, the much younger, reluctant sidekick Miranda, who has a touch of Scrooge syndrome from life’s hard knocks. What ensues is a sweet tale of generosity and good-will towards men as this unlikely pair make stops at hum drum retirement homes, run down diners, lack luster rehabs, and broken homes in much need of joy. The warmth of one heart sparks the sputtering flames in the hearts of others.
After reading this title, I made a conscious decision to try and slow down, enjoy the ride, and look forward to each little thing this Christmas for the sake of the doing and not for the finishing. To really notice those around me that are in need and give them a place this Christmas, whether that means a place in my schedule or a place at my table. I want to be a little more like Joy. We don’t have to travel cross country in search of those who need to be loved and blessed. I happen to know of several people in our communities that will be alone, or separated from family this season. That is one of the saddest things in my estimation. This just shouldn’t be so.
I understand that we are already bursting at the seams with family and friends coming in for the holidays. But here is a thought…so was the Inn in Bethlehem. I believe events of that night were divinely orchestrated, and Jesus was meant to be born in a humble stable. But I can’t help thinking what that inn keeper missed out on, the blessing he passed up because he couldn’t make room. Let’s not be so busy we forget to make room for joy, to entertain those in need, those that could be a blessing in humble disguise.
Let’s make it our aim to be a little more outward minded, and in some real, tangible way, reach out those around us…making room for Jesus, even if He is disguised as ‘the least of these’. Let’s spread the true gifts of Christmas. In place of chaos, peace. Joy instead of sorrow. Gratitude instead of greed. Rest instead of busy-ness. And room in the center of our hearts and homes for what is most important. And from me to you, I wish you the very merriest of Christmases and a bright, hopeful New Year!