A few days ago I posted a Facebook status that asked, "Does it count as being in the Christmas spirit if you don't feel like doing any of the work?"
I meant it to be a bit flippant, but the more I think about it, the more it sums up my feelings about Christmas this year. Generally one is expected to either be exuberantly dashing about to stores and parties or bah-humbugging along (usually while still dashing about to stores and parties).
There is no Dasher in me this year. Yet I bear no ill-will toward Christmas. It's still delightful. The lights twinkle just as well, the songs play just as merrily, the occasional social event is just as much fun.
But when it comes to my personal contribution to the festivities, well, I hope to show up. In something that bears no stains or rips more than an hour old. I have baked a couple batches of cookies, and that was plenty, and I have wrapped two or three gifts for each duckling (and only the ducklings) from the remnants of last summer's yard sales, and that was plenty. The tree was decorated once, but ducklings somehow quite innocently keep getting entangled in the lower reaches, so it now looks like the result of an ornament fight in the woods.
In a brief, quickly-abandoned attempt to write a Christmas letter I dug through this year's blog archives and remembered last year's Christmas. (And marveled again at the phenomenon that the stuff I wrote a year or more ago is always so much more profound and witty than the present drivel.) The twins were in the six-month growth spurt, nursing night and day and just learning how to gag down a few bites of applesauce.
Nights have certainly improved since then: how quickly one learns to take eleven hours of quiet for granted. But days have become much, much more complicated. The babies who napped twice a day, rolled about in a blanket in the corner, or rode along in mei tais have turned into The Energizer Bunnies of Chaos. Just opening the refrigerator door is an exercise in strategic withdrawal, as by the time the necessary object is removed, one or more inquisitive heads will be blocking its closure.
No wonder by the time nap time or bedtime hits, I can't come up with the energy to tackle a beautiful and creative Christmas project--or even the energy to care that I don't. I could berate myself over my laxness or express bitterness over various cultural expectations, but I don't really want to. I think all that stuff is very fun, I just don't want to this year. Some years one can be a Magi, bearing gifts from afar, and some years one is a shepherd, showing up impromptu and unequipped with a crowd of stinky sheep. The manger is open to all.
I wonder if God sent the angels to the shepherds and the star for the wise men because he knew the shepherds wouldn't have a clue what the star was about and the wise men wouldn't believe the angel--or, at least, would not enjoy it as much as working out all their star position charts. There's a messenger that's right for each of us, and I think mine will show up while I'm sitting in the rocking chair by the Christmas tree, singing carols to two howling toddlers who just fell and bonked their heads again.