Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas ~ Hustle and Bustle or Peace and Serenity...You Decide

I wrote this little essay as part of a multigenre paper for a creative writing class back in college a few years ago and I thought I would share it with you.

Christmas: Back to the Heart of it

"If, as Herod, we fill our lives with things, and again with things; if we consider ourselves so unimportant that we must fill every moment of our lives with action, when will we have the time to make the long, slow journey across the desert as did the Magi? Or sit and watch the stars, as did the shepherds? Or brood over the coming of the child as did Mary? For each of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life." ~ Author Unknown

Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of the year. So many neat things go on, and we have an excuse to be really gaudy with all the strings of lights, strands of garland, decorated trees, and tons of food. We also tend to make more time to be with family and friends. The rest of the year seems to rush right by, and we rarely make that precious time. When I take time to reflect on Christmases past, a flood of sweet memories wash over me. I recall the splendor of the pre-decorated "gold" tree of my adolescence. Steadfast family traditions, such as mom's and Nana's annual tamale making parties, have given me rich memories. Other vivid memories include: magical candlelit midnight masses, annual tours of downtown's Christmas lights, and whimsically filled Christmas stockings. Magical moments stand out the most though, like the time snow fell in Phoenix while we were attending an outdoor reenactment of the Nativity. Anticipation of those moments is what I delight in. However, stress is also a part of this season. The entertaining, hustling, bustling crowds, hemorrhaging checking account, shopping and wrapping, and unending invitations can be overwhelming. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I have made some changes over the years to calm it all down, but I ask myself, can I do more? What is Christmas?

Of course, we all know that it is about celebrating the birth of a Savior in our world. But how do we really honor that? And what would that look like? It seems to me that it should still be magical, and giving seems to still fit, but how much? What? And to whom should we give?

In this day and age of light speed changes, I wonder how we can celebrate the meaningful events in our lives. How do we honor that which we claim to so highly value? How do we capture memories that we will build full, rich lives around? Before we can answer these questions about Christmas, we must first decide what exactly it means. Where did it start? Why is there profound meaning in Christmas? What does it personally mean to each of us? And what about all those traditions? Where did they all come from, and do they help us to honor this season?

Years ago, I received a copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance as a birthday gift. Her life's philosophy resonated with me and left me with a burning desire to build a more authentic life. We are Americans and we are abundantly blessed with the ability to make choices about the way we live and yet many of us are emotionally and spiritually emaciated.

If you are anything like me, you remember few of the gifts you have either received over the years or given. What you remember are the moments made special or magical like an unexpected visit from a dear friend, snow falling in the desert, the glow from the fireplace and the twinkling lights, the faces of children, or feeling the presence of God himself as your church choir sings angelic hymns.

I've been moving in this more authentic direction for years now, and this year I'm going to take one more bold step and make my gift giving more authentic, more personal...and less expensive. I'll let you know how it goes :-).

I would love to hear your thoughts on this beautiful season of hope, love, peace and joy. How do you honor it? Is there more...or less you long for? ~ Blessings, Janet


  1. Hi! I'm blog hopping today hoping to meet new friends. What a lovely blog and a super post. I have added myself as your newest follower on GFC.I'm off to browse around your blog now. Please drop by and maybe follow me. I'd be delighted welcome you.
    Warmest wishes
    Carol from

  2. Here from the bloghop.
    I follow you on GFC. I'd love for you to follow me back
    Tiffypoot @ (

  3. Hi Janet . . . thanks for visiting and following my blog . . . I'm following you back :-)

    Beautiful post! My life philosophy has evolved around Sarah's books. The book Simple Abundance changed my life . . . if you haven't checked out the rest of her books, you should!

    My blog Peace Love Happiness is built around my life philosophies . . . check out that blog when you get a chance.

    Have an awesome weekend . . . Gina
    . . . and many more!

  4. Beautiful! Yes, we do remember moments rather than specific gifts and those memories keep us connected to the gift giver.
    Thanks again for stopping by my Blogger blog... Like you, I have two blogs that keep me busy. :-)
    I love that book shelf!

  5. Lovely post - and lovely blog! The quote "For each of us, there is a desert to travel. A star to discover. And a being within ourselves to bring to life" gives much to ponder. You have some great images in your post. I'm your newest follower!

  6. Hi there, I'm a new follower from the weekend blog hop! Hope you stop by my blog sometime soon. :)

    -Sabrina from

  7. following you back from last friday's hop!

    thanks and love the blog!

  8. Such a lovely blog post!
    I'm your newest follower! Hope you'll visit my blog!

  9. Thanks for stopping by Emma's Lunch :) I'm following you too.

  10. Hi There!
    I've found you through the blog hops! I'm your newest follower. Drop by my blog and say hi! I can be found at

  11. What a great post! So true. Hustle bustle stinks! I love the song "We three Kings" and there is a video on my blog of the Living Nativity Scene at the Radio City Christmas Show. Always so moving.

  12. Love this!

    Following you from BabyDealsDujour,
    we list all the baby daily deals in real-time. Love to see you on Facebook and

  13. Hi there~ I am your newest follower from the Tuesday blog hop! I would love it if you stopped by and returned the love :)

  14. Hi! I'm a new follower from the Tuesday Blog Hop!

    You had me at "life in jeans and a t-shirt"! :)


  15. Hello! Visiting here and happy tuesday
    Happy Holidays
    newest follower ,pls. follow me back
    :) Thank you

  16. Following you back from the blog hop - thanks for the comment & follow!
    Musings from a Stay At Home Mom

  17. I am your new follower. You can follow me back at Make sure you leave a comment so I know you visited.

  18. I'm your newest follower from the Wednesday Blog Hops! Come check out my blog at:

    Have a great day!

  19. Hi! New follower from Wandering Wednesday! You can visit me at

    Beki :)

  20. Lovely! So happy to be a follower. Merry Christmas.

  21. i'm following from wandering wednesday! i'd love if you could visit my blog and follow back!


  22. Hi Janet - I'm here from Wandering Wednesday. I love that I came upon your blog today because it has been my personal goal to be much more intentional about Advent and being peaceful during this time. I enjoyed your post very much and I'm your newest follower. Thanks for inspiring me today.


  23. Janet,
    Love the post. We do remember the moments. However, I've had some wonderful moments where I've gotten some heartfelt homemade gifts from my daughter that brought tears to my eyes. It's the love in the gifts and the moments that you remember.

  24. Hi Janet,

    The first time I read this post, it really moved me and I was inspired to make a video Christmas card based on the song "O Holy Night" . . .

    As I created the video, the tears flowed as I realized that year by year, the reason for the season fades a little more. It makes me sad that the holidays have become a symbol of commercialism and the spiritual aspect is all but ignored.

    Sorry to go on about that . . . anyway, I wanted to share the video I created with you, especially since your post inspired me to express myself creatively.

    Thank you so much for your comment about Charlie. It was so comforting to hear about your new baby dogs :)

    Bless you Janet!! Have an awesome day . . . Gina

    Here is the link to the video . . .