Joy for the Holidays

I guess that is my best advice to everyone as we enter into this rather quirky holiday season: it is okay to be…

So the holidays are coming around again…

It is remarkable to think how much the world has changed over the last twelve months. Consider that a year ago for Thanksgiving my family had to cancel our original plans and I suddenly had to learn how to cook an entire Turkey Day meal from scratch. How we still weren’t singing in church and were frantically figuring out how to creatively rope everything off to match the Christmas decorations. Or how does one manage to do a nativity with nearly twenty younglings who cannot even be in the same room together?

A lot has changed, while other things have not.

We do get to travel again this week to be with family. This is a special joy for us since none of our family lives nearby and Thanksgiving is the only major holiday I take off. (And I do get to use some of those newly found cooking skills, too – just luckily not all of them.) We are back to singing at church since we can spread out and so much of our congregation is vaccinated, which is a blessing. And that also means that instead of frantically figuring out how to keep everyone separated, this year our music leaders have been excitedly learning pieces for Advent and Christmastide since October. One big thing that hasn’t changed, however, is that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and our kids are only just now starting to get vaccinated (if they even can), which means that we are going to have to get creative with our annual nativity.

Once again we find ourselves in a version of the holidays that will look unlike any other. There will be new and different challenges from last year and a race to see how much “normalcy” we can restore even as the numbers continue to rise all around us. The mad rush has already begun. Honestly, I can feel my own body is bubbling with excitement.

You know, last Sunday marked thirteen months without my husband. But I didn’t realize it until several days later. Even with my accident, I am so relieved to be beyond all of the “firsts” that it feels as though the weight of the world has been lifted. I feel genuinely joyful for the first time in forever.

And I guess that is my best advice to everyone as we enter into this rather quirky holiday season: it is okay to be happy. Even when everything is not perfect. Even when the world continues to crumble. Even if normal seems a gazillion miles away. Even if you’re not really sure why. If you feel a laugh rising up from your soul, let it rip. If you find yourself shimmying and swaying to the Christmas waltz or WHAM!, go for it. And if you feel your heart crack open in the hope, peace, joy, and love that are meant to fill us up, enjoy yourself.

You don’t have to wait for the world to be turned right side up to celebrate all the good that is happening. Besides, our God tends to encourage everything turning upside down.

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