“Time always seems long to the child who is waiting – for Christmas, for next summer, for becoming a grown up, long also when he surrenders his whole soul to each moment of a happy day.” Daj Hammarskjold
“I believe that a trusting attitude and a patient attitude go hand in hand…. Patience is not just about waiting for something… it’s about how you wait, or your attitude while waiting.” Joyce Meyer
Some of this may be connected to time. I often feel rushed, so standing still doing nothing has always seemed like a waste of time, especially this time of year. Why, there are presents to buy, a tree to put up, decorating to do, and cookies to bake! How can I just sit down and watch a video about the true meaning of Christmas. (lol)
I think this pressure to go, go, go and do, do, do, is built into us and into our culture. We fill up any vacuum with movement. So, even though they don’t wait so well either, we think of Christmas as more for children than for the rest of us. “Just wait, we say to their open-mouthed excitement, Santa is coming!” And while we race off onto the next Christmas task, the next gift to buy, I think they do wait, if impatiently.
Of course, with true Christmas irony, even when the children are at home…waiting by the tree and watching for Santa…the elf on the shelf spends the days before Christmas moving around a lot! And luckily, waiting while wiggling in place doesn’t count against you!
Yet, despite the excitement, the anticipation, and the fear that too much frustration with the waiting would land me on the naughty list, I do remember waiting as a child. I remember stillness. I recall watching the snow drifting in the streetlights as I waited for my mom to get home on Christmas Eve.
I can even see the child me staring at the star on the Christmas tree knowing in that moment that I would always remember the timelessness of Christmas. As a child… and yet even today, Christmas has the power to capture my heart in a mystical way…
…and maybe waiting is part of the reason.
Frederick Buechner says Advent is about anticipation. It is like the moment a conductor raises his baton. “You hold your breath to listen…waiting…aware of the beating of your heart.” You know the music is about to begin and you want to experience every note.
I think we have to want Christmas. Maybe, we even have to need Christmas.
No, not the tree or the ornaments, nor the gifts or the ribbons, not the stockings or the bows. “It came without ribbons, It came without tags, It came without packages, boxes, or bags,” the Grinch reminds us. They are the doing.
Christmas is the loving. It is the miracle of the birth of a Child.
We have to want Christmas…want to touch something so big and so beautiful, yet as small as a baby.
For when we quiet ourselves, Buechner assures “…far off in the deep…we can hear the world holding its breath as well.” Then the great Conductor sets the angels singing. Then, our spirits free, we rejoice.
Of course, we adults can make it hard on ourselves to get there. All too often, we need a child, our very own Cindy Lou Who, to show it to us….the trust that Christmas will come whether we find the perfect gifts…or not, whether we bake every cookie…or not. Christmas comes, it always comes…even when we need to let our heart grow a few sizes before we can see it.
Christmas is about love. The love of the Father, the love of family, the love of a baby. And love is the gift that forever endures.
Advent is the promise that love is always there, and that if you wait you’ll hear angels sing.
Wait in hope…believe in the magic…Christmas is coming!