“Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
There they were, ten preschoolers in suits and fancy dresses, each holding one letter of MERRY CHRISTMAS. I know that they must have started out the morning with at least fourteen kids, because their long-suffering choir director would not knowingly drag them onto the chancel to spell out ERRY CHIM SA in front of the whole caroling congregation.
I had gone to church that morning specifically to see Mel, my friend’s daughter. She had campaigned for—and won—the coveted role of the first M (for Mel), the one that starts out the whole production, and she was ecstatic about her stage debut.
ERRY CHIM SA, the letters proclaimed. If you looked carefully, you would see that Mel and her M were not actually missing. She was indeed up there at her rehearsed mark, far on stage left, lying prostrate on the floor, gold tulle dress flipped upside down over her face, both fists flung out ahead, the carefully glittered, crumpled M unceremoniously smooshed into the carpet under her body.
Later she clearly explained, “It was a little bit too much of everything. I just needed it to stop for a minute. Next time I will take calm breaths.” And I wondered if Mel had just solved the holidays once and for all.
There is so much anticipatory joy and more than a little gumption in having the grandiosity to show up for the party in gold tulle in the first place. And such self-possessed wisdom in lying down and pulling it over your face when everything is too much.
And it is too much, isn’t it? Sometimes the final days of the unexpected pregnancy find you in a strange place where they tell you there’s no room in the inn. In real life, sometimes grief looms largest in December. Sometimes there's one too many dress-ups and the gold tulle makes your legs itch.
“I just needed it to stop for a minute. Next time I will take calm breaths.”
Divine Love, help us to remember that we are Your precious children and that You delight in us when we have the audacity to stop and take care of ourselves when it’s all just a bit too much.