I toss some change into the red kettle before I go through WalMart’s door.
The tree of a ringer man smiles broad. “God bless you, and Merry Christmas!”
“God bless you, too, and Merry Christmas,” I murmur.
But I wonder if my piddly coins can really make a difference.
I’ve come for a few groceries. I usually don’t get them here, but there was something I wanted. What was it? Oh yes, some Clorox dishcloths. So I only “eat one meal at a time.” So “yesterday’s meal isn’t still hanging out” on my dishes.
So I’ve combined trips.
In the name of simplicity.
While here, I wander the toy aisles. Pick up. Put down. Toss a big bag of primary-colored Mega Bloks into my cart.
I head for the card aisle and choose a couple sympathy cards.
I’m numb to the season this year.
I don’t know. I suppose part of it is grief.
And part is pure exhaustion.
It’s been a stress-filled year, both good and bad.
I. Am. Drained.
I see shoppers, carts full, brows furrowed.
A small boy pedals a tricycle fast and furious up and down and all around. I jump out of his way. Where are his people?
I hear a temper tantrum in progress over in sporting goods. I’m not sure if it’s a child or a mother.
Lines are long. Cashiers are in short supply.
A red-and-black-plaid-flannel-shirted man in jeans growls at his wife. “I told you to only get six of these candles. You got like a dozen.”
Everyone in line stares at him.
But I watch her face flush. She ducks her head, and words come quiet. “But they were on sale.”
I just want to go home and curl up in front of a decorated tree with a cup of hot tea and contemplate His coming.
Except I haven’t done that in years. Too busy to sit and breathe.
And I don’t have a decorated tree.
That was last year.
This year it’s Kohl’s. Four feet. White. On sale for $20 from $45.
(Maybe I’ll add a few small ornaments. Maybe not.)
And pine boughs slapped on a porch table.
But others have expectations.
They depend on me to deliver.
It’s not that I don’t want to create beauty and an aura of peace.
It’s not that I don’t want to give perfect (inexpensive, maybe fun) gifts that others appreciate.
I caught the tail end of Paula Deen’s Christmas show yesterday. She gave her husband a couple Santa ornaments. He gave her a trip to Paris. Now that’s my kind of gift giving.
Where one gives out of love without counting the cost.
And one receives in love without counting the cost.
I just don’t know that I can measure up to expectations any more.
Or that I even want to.
Anyway, there is only One who can deliver.
Delivered to deliver.
Not just from physical death.
But from ourselves.
From our own expectations and the expectations of others.
Whose expectations are simple.
And isn’t that what Christmas is all about anyway?
I’m just not into Christmas this year.
But maybe, just maybe, Christmas is getting into me.
Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
Getting into Christmas with my cross-eyed friend, Jennifer, and community.