All I Want for Christmas

 

. . . making the most of the time . . . –Ephesians 5:15 RSV

Leftover turkey in the fridge. Blaze orange clothing over backs of chairs. Plastic bins of Christmas decorations in the hall. Has it really been a year since I packed them away? Before I know it, I’ll be packing them up again.

Slow down, time, and let me savor each day as this season unfolds. Let me not get so caught up with lists and just the right gift and programs and housecleaning and baking, that by the time the day comes, I’ll be a bah-humbug.

Do you know what I’ve wanted to do for a long time?

Toss the lists—we have too much already. Closets and drawers overflowing. Food getting moldy in the fridge. Weight and health problems because we have over and above what we need and too many things we really don’t want.

I’d like to give Christmas away. Take all that money I’d spend on gifts that no one really needs and give it to someone who does. I’d like to go Christmas shopping for a family who wouldn’t have a Christmas otherwise. Food, clothes, toys. Pack it in boxes, leave it on their doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then hide and watch the wonder, the surprise, the joy.

But I’m locked in tradition. And I lack the courage to break it.

I can make a start—by telling my family not to get me anything. I’m not being a martyr here. Honest. I have more than enough.

And ask them, instead, for time. Time to enjoy a leisurely meal together. And it doesn’t have to be one someone spent all day in the kitchen preparing. Macaroni and cheese or bought pizza would be just fine. Time to watch a movie together and eat popcorn. Time to sit around the table and talk or play Monopoly or Sorry or Uno Attack. So what if my youngest son tromps me by fifty points every time we play Scrabble?

I want to call Sam and Deb and invite them to, as they so often joked, “come visit the poor folks.”

I don’t want to look back, at the end of my life, and cry, like poor, rich Solomon did, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything was meaningless!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

The most meaningful gifts don’t come with a price tag.

Like time. Like sharing. Like love. Like family. After all, when the chips are down, who else do we have? As Robert Frost once wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”*

In the end, it all comes down to choice.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” *

Dear God, give me the courage to take the road less traveled by. Amen.

*“The Death of the Hired Man” and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, by Michele Huey. © 2018. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

What’s REALLY Important?

 

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. –Psalm 90:12 NIV

Music has been a part of my friend George’s life since he toured with a rock-and-roll band in the 1960s and early ’70s. In his seventies now, George still enjoys playing his bass guitar with an oldies band.

One day he and the band members visited their lead guitarist, Mark, who was in the home stretch of a terminal illness.

“We didn’t know that he would die the next day,” George told me. “We knew he was going to die, but we thought it might be in a month. We didn’t know. Nor did he.”

They got to talking about the best gig they ever played.

“It was that job that we did for those rich people, that served Oysters Rockefeller,” George said. “That was the most unbelievable delicious spread of food I’ve ever had.”

They laughed. “George, you would think about the food.”

“That gig down in Virginia Beach,” Randy said. “Remember the size of the crowd and the cheering? The money they paid us?”

Then Mark—who was going to die the next day—put in his two cents.

“Do you remember the gig we played at that little vineyard in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Remember how sweet the people were? And then at the end of the day, do you remember that spectacular sunset?”

“And I got to thinking,” George told me. “Was it the money? The crowds? The cheering? The food? Or was it the sweet people and the spectacular sunset that made the most impact on our lives?”

Too often we go through life trying to make a difference. We want our lives to count for something. So we spend our time on earth doing, doing, doing—all too often feeling like a hamster on an exercise wheel, going round and round but not getting anywhere. And wondering if, in the end, what we did mattered.

Or we spend our days getting, getting, getting all we can to make our lives easier, more enjoyable. Then one day we realize our homes and offices and vehicles are cluttered with stuff we thought we needed. So we rent storage place to put all that extra stuff we don’t need but we don’t want to part with.

Our sentiments echo those of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who pursued work, pleasure, wisdom, knowledge—in short, everything under the sun. Only to discover, in the end, it all was meaningless—“a chasing after the wind.”

So what, then, gives our lives meaning and purpose?

The crowds? The applause? The money? The things we can get with money? The food?

Or the people we encounter? The spectacular sunsets. Autumn in all its glowing glory. A soft snowfall. The first flower of spring. The smell of mowed grass on a summer’s day. The scent of a freshly bathed baby. The feel of a child’s arms around your neck. The sense of your spouse’s presence next to you when you wake up in the middle of the night. The explosion of flavor from the first tomato of the season. The roiling black clouds of a coming storm. Or the white cotton ball clouds that change shape as they float through the summer sky. Cloud shadows skimming across a field. The gurgle of a mountain stream. The whirr of a hummingbird’s wings.

I don’t want to look back on my life and realize I missed all that really mattered. All that God placed within my reach but I didn’t touch, taste, see, smell, listen to, enjoy. Everything that cost absolutely nothing but the time to stop and savor it.

What about you? What is the best gig you ever played?

Sunset in Smithport 8/23/2017
(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Help me, O Lord, not to chase after the wind but to spend my days with my eyes and heart wide open, ready to recognize and embrace the simple pleasures You bless me with every day. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 90.

© 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Images of calendar and hamster are in pubic domain.