This holiday season, Kory and I decided to adopt a Head Start family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was really excited about this activity because it seemed like a great way to engage our kids in the act of giving beyond ourselves. In fact, the family we chose is also one of five. Two boys, one girl. Just like ours. At precisely the same ages. So I figured it would be really easy to get the kids excited about this activity.
The script I had written in my head included dinner out as a family, followed by shopping to purchase items from our Head Start family’s wish list. We were going to do this twice. Once for Thanksgiving. And once for Christmas. And we were going to have a great time. Share a wonderful meal. And engage in good, thoughtful conversation along the way.
And then October and the first two weeks of November happened. Kory got sick. Our daughter got sick. Our oldest son got sick. We flew to Rome and back. We had a birthday party. We hosted a Halloween block party. Kory performed two weddings. We had a stewardship campaign. And we did a bunch of other stuff in between. Before I knew it, the Thanksgiving deadline was breathing down our backs. The same weekend we decided to host a garage sale.
But I was determined to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. So after 6 hours of garage sale and two car rides to the Christian Community Action Retail Store to donate the remaining items, I dumped the kids in the bath, cleaned myself up as well, and prepared myself to take them out for pizza and shopping. (Minus Kory because he was performing the second wedding mentioned above.) It wasn’t exactly the way I’d planned it given that my husband wouldn’t be with us, but it would have to do.
And then I lost my car keys. And couldn’t find a spare set. So my plans were foiled once again.
Sunday came and went with no time for pizza and shopping. And then it was Monday. The deadline to turn in our Thanksgiving donation to Head Start, and I had not purchased single item.
The kids had school.
And Kory and I both had work to do.
So now, what was intended to be a family activity, turned into a mommy activity. When mommy should have been tending to other things. The “I don’t have time for this” mantra began rolling around in my head as I headed out the door to do the shopping.
I was stressed.
And I wasn’t in a very good mood.
This was not how this was supposed to go.
I felt defeated.
Because this has been quite a year for me. I’ve read a lot. Wrestled with a lot. And changed a lot. Many months ago, in fact, I committed to live into the holiday season differently this year. Like a lot differently. And I’ve been really excited for the season to arrive.
And yet. I found myself rehearsing the same song and dance from years past all over again:
I don’t have time for this.
Had I really only come this far?
But as I strolled the aisles of several department stores looking for a queen sized blanket, a Christmas tree, some toys and clothing for the kids, and some gift cards, my spirit began to lighten. My heart began to soften. My task list began to fade away. And before I knew it, I was crying at WalMart.
Oh how my heart and soul needed this moment! Because I’m thirsty to serve. To bless others. And to make a difference in the world. I’ve gotten lost in the trenches of motherhood just trying to survive the day. Every day. And I’m parched to be put to use in ways that extend beyond my family.
Yes. I needed this moment. In the midst of the busyness of the holiday season. In a time when the pressures of life can act like a tourniquet to our feelings and emotions, virtually cutting them off from our heart and soul so that we feel nothing.
I needed this moment to jostle myself from an emotional slumber.
To slow down.
To put my task list aside.
To be generous with my time and my resources.
And to let my thoughts and prayers reside with a family who, at its core, is not too different from my own. But who has a very different holiday wish this year.
I do have time for this. We all do. In fact, we don’t have time not to do this. Because life is short. Our days are numbered. And we want to leave this world a little better than we found it.
One family at a time.
We do. Don’t we?