Today I wake in a Christmas-rush panic, my mind flicking through things yet to do: cards to write and pop in the mail (still!), gifts to buy or make or distribute, a house to scour clean lest it shock and dismay family members visiting in seven–no six!!!–days.
Please. Just give me an extra week.
I contemplate jumping out of bed, bolting breakfast, chugging coffee, diving into this river of holiday activity. Just hold my breath, flail, and get it all done–or drown trying.
But then I remember the question–one I’ve tried to ask myself each December since losing a dear friend to cancer some years ago. It was late winter when my friend, who had two daughters, told me she was dying. During our final walk together, we talked of things I’ve since forgotten, and then she said something I’ll never forget as long as I live: “I wish I’d known it was my last Christmas with my girls.” Which leads to the question I ask myself now:
What if this were my last Christmas–and I knew it?
Would I spend these last days frantically scribbling Christmas cards, struggling through crowds in big box stores and shopping malls, or cleaning every nook and cranny of our home?
Probably not. Though I can’t say what I’d do for certain–I mean, who really knows unless it happens?–I like to think I’d spend my precious time on seasonal activities that mean the most to me: laughing,conversing, and sharing good food with family and friends, for instance, or watching (and singing along with) Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for, like, the 50th time.
Holding this question in my heart, I decide not to jump, bolt, chug, dive, or hold my breath–at least for the moment. Instead, I put on some classic Christmas music. I pour coffee into my favorite holiday mug. I curl up with a good book beside our glittering, ornament-packed tree–a Douglas fir whose fragrance embodies so many wonderful Christmas pasts. Gazing at that tree, I’m briefly a small child again, or the parent of a small child again. I’m bursting with excitement and anticipation.
Seven days to go.
And I can hardly wait.
Wishing you a holiday filled with what you love the most!
PS. What’s one of your favorite rituals or traditions this time of year?