Christmas “Wants”

“What do you want for Christmas?”

As a little girl, the question of December was always “what do you want for Christmas?” It was Santa’s main question but it was also a question of my family and friends.  Maybe it was a way to get hints for gift-giving. Maybe it was a comparison of “want” lists. Did Deborah’s list have something on it that I had missed in my thorough examination of the Sears Christmas catalog?

Ah!  The Sears catalog – now THAT was sheer joy – an examination from first page to last of the possible new toys for the list! Sure, there were clothes in the front part of the catalog: matching Christmas pajamas, lovely red velvet Christmas dresses for Sunday School and maybe a new pair of black patent leather church shoes!  But the real fun? The pages of dolls, trucks, games, and chemistry kits (yes, already embracing my nerd-dom – never got one!) gave so many ideas for the “want” list!

Then on December 25, the question shifted to “what did you get?” Early in the morning, brother Gene and I would “patiently” wait for the ok from Mama and Daddy that we could take a look under the tree. Ever wise, my parents did not get us everything on our lists but we were always overjoyed with what we did get!

In the afternoon, we made the trip to Grandma’s house where the question could be asked of cousins: “what did you get for Christmas?” As I got older, I made the call or the ride to see what Elizabeth got from Santa. When we went back to school, we continued to ask the question of classmates. Everyone was comparing, admiring – maybe with a little jealousy – the gifts of Santa!

What do you want for Christmas?
As I’ve talked with clergy and laity this week in my role as ministry coach, I’ve asked each of them: What do you want more of during this Advent and Christmas season?

Hmmm.

Well, one answer may be like the little girl from the Today show story: “a nap” – true story of a little girl (2 or 3 yrs) who when asked the question answered with this wish. Santa was happy to oblige as he reclined and cuddled the little girl for the Christmas wish nap. My guess: it was also the parents’ wish!

What do I want more of this season?
For me: less rush, more quiet, less fixing, more trusting, less activity, more family time

The second question I asked this week: What do you need to do to make this happen?

For me: intentionality, willingness to say no, acceptance that less is more (every Christmas decoration does not have to be put out!)

The third question is an adaptation of “what did you get”: How will you know that it happened?

For me: less frantic running around, a decorated house that brings joy instead of exhaustion, time with family and friends that is easy, and time to actually sit down on Christmas Day!

Most importantly, I want time with God to enjoy his Presence.
I need to spend time each day in moments of gratitude, reflection, reading and writing.
I will know that I’ve gotten my “want” when Advent and Christmas season brings me closer to the greatest Gift that I will ever get for Christmas!

On this first Sunday of Advent:
What do you want for this Advent and Christmas?
What do you need to do to make that happen?
On December 25, how will you know that you got it?

May the joy, love and peace of Jesus Christ, the Gift, be with you!

Stuff, Storage and Simplicity

It’s amazing how much stuff one can collect in 10 years in one office – 15 years in one appointment.

Last week I finished my time at Pine Valley UMC by packing up my office and bringing it all home to my garage. (Of course, now my two-car garage is a one-half car garage.)

Someone asked me if I had purged my office. Uh, yes. At least a “ton” of paper in the recycle bin or shredded. Three boxes of books donated to the Conference Media Center.   Another 3 boxes will soon go to the Rescue Mission. Some of my treasures were given to folks and I’m working on at least another two boxes for the UMW yard sale.

Where did I get all of this stuff ???

I will admit I have this thing for books. More is better. Maybe it makes me feel more intelligent. Maybe I fear that by NOT finishing a book I have somehow failed. So I hold on to it – just in case I finish it. Maybe I need to realize that I will not meet the goal of reading all of the books that I was SUPPOSED to read in seminary. (Note: this May is the 25th anniversary of my graduation from Duke Divinity School.)

The question: what do I really need?

In the midst of this cleaning out, purging, finding a new spot for my things, I’ve thought about simplicity. The pattern for me is usually buying more storage bins to store more stuff.  Maybe I should just rent another self-storage unit!

Simplicity. It’s not just our physical stuff. We carry around all sorts of emotional stuff – never getting rid of the clutter that overwhelms us. We just take on more and more, pushing emotions deeper and deeper.

Maybe what we all need – wait, what I need – is a cleaning out of the emotional stuff, not just the physical clutter of my life. Are there resentments that I’ve packed up and stored for future use? Are there hurts that have never healed – just have been “band-aided” with dust?

I remember the words of a PVUMC saint who told me near the end of his life: “Trish, everything gets a lot simpler at the end.”

Wise words – but there’s no need to wait until the end. Right, Roy?