Christmas Courage

Out the window, tiny flakes hang suspended in the air before rushing to the earth with a strong gust of wind. I watch the process repeat over and over again, my heartbeat getting caught up in the swirling rhythm outside. Sitting on this side of the wall with the Christmas tree alight, I’m safe inside the world’s largest snow globe.

Merry Christmas, self.

Here, in the sharp gray quiet of the morning, Christmas feels “right” inside of me—a blend of beauty and expectation, longing and patience, contemplation and connection. Here, if I listen closely, I can hear the Spirit’s advent greetings for my heart.

And in just a few moments, I’ll close this laptop, throw on some clothes and rush out into the great big world, where the threat of losing Christmas looms heavy. Instead, something else, akin to Christmas but more scrambled, is waiting for me in the traffic lights, each shot up cup of coffee, the very loud music in the very crowded stores and the digital ads flooding my social media.

This year, if I think of the holidays, it takes little time for me to feel inadequate. Two minutes tops. Presents, travel, holiday parties, holiday food, Christmas cards—I’m doing all of those things, not doing them at the level I would like and simultaneously feeling guilty for what I am doing, as if it is too much.

Happiest of Holidays, self.

I have filled an amazon cart with gifts I plan to buy and have purchased none of them yet.

I’ve braved the grocery store, committed to not buying extra Christmas food, and walked out with all of the makings for holiday sangria because I saw fresh cranberries, and damn it, they were just so cute.

I’ve walked into apparel stores decked with holly and fake frosted windows, felt the wave of anxiety over all the options and briskly turned on my heel to jump out in the cold again.

I’ve tossed and turned over how to tell friends that I love them while on a tighter holiday budget thanks to holiday airfare.

And Jesus help the number of times I’ve looked down to find my hands filled with peppermint hot chocolate and a half eaten piece of sketchy holiday something. “I don’t even like this fudge!!!” I shout to myself before throwing it into the trashcan.

This weekend, my sweet friend Rachel spent some time at our house. The two of us found ourselves talking about kindness in the midst of strain, and how hard that is for us.  Sitting together at the kitchen bar, I noticed the both of us snuggled up in PJ pants with sleep hair and make up free expressions, and I thought about love.

Ordinary Saturday morning love.

I thought about the love that splits the last piece of bacon.

I thought about the love that says “me too.”

I thought about love amidst final papers, bearing witness to hope and to the new life that unfolds slowly.

I sit here trying to write a Christmas blog post, knowing there is nothing to say about Christmas that hasn’t already been spoken by someone somewhere. All I can give you this quiet, snowy morning is the truth of my advent.

I don’t want to lose ordinary love in holiday expectation.

I’ve been moved multiple times this Christmas by small acts of presence. Those moments of being together go such a long way in creating connection during the holiday.

Odds are high that we all find ourselves struggling somewhere this holiday, and we all have spaces of lack. I hope we find room to acknowledge those places together rather than wrapping them away.  I hope we do it without pretense, comfy in pajamas, over large cups of coffee and agenda-free conversation.

After all, those are the things that remind us of advent’s truth: there’s so much we’re still awaiting. And it’s love for one another that gives us the courage to wait.

Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 28 year old seminary student, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called Will I Break?, and someday, that manuscript may see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.