I feel like it was only three years ago I used to preach – stubbornly swear by the idea that the world would never make me hard. I would never become one of those adults who’d lost their magic, their ability to find excitement and good in the world. But this morning, as I sat in church, I started to worry that I’ve begun to become just that. Maybe not full blown bitter, but I’ve definitely walked past the Kool-aide stand a few times – checked out the prices, maybe even given it a thought or two. I’m definitely closer than I was, and either way – it scared the shit out of me.
There is nothing anti-Christmas about my church. There are huge wreaths adorning the walls, a full set of lit evergreen’s lining the pulpit, and all the faces I’ve grown up with familiarizing my every glance. It is literally oozing nostalgia. How could I feel anything but happy in this setting? But instead, much to my chagrining acknowledgement, I felt like I was going through the motions. Thinking more about the day, the millions of things I needed to get done from now until the 24th, and the plate-full of things after that, instead of making the moment count. The very thing I so often preach here, and to my students, every day. Don’t count the days, make the days count.
From church I rushed home to steal a few squeezes from my niece before racing to the next event of the day. It wasn’t until I had actually made it there, claimed my tickets and found my seat until I realized I was about to do one of my most favorite things and be a part of live theatre. I took a few of my students to see A Christmas Story at a theatre I grew up with this afternoon. It’s a theatre that feels like home to me, and the coolest thing is that some of my students perform with them now, so as worlds collide I can’t help but feel reminded of the good in the world.
There is something about live theatre that just gets me. It always has. For one, I am forced to be present. There’s no checking your phone or worrying about what’s next. It’s just you, and the incredible things happening three feet in front of you. Or in my case, the 4 year old snuggled up to my left asking me for skittles every few scenes. Other than that, I was fully present. It might have been this realization, or the beautiful things happening on stage, but for the first time all month, I actually remembered what Christmas felt like a few short years ago. It felt less like responsibility and a lot more like magic.
If you find yourself drinking the obligation punch this month, I urge you to remember what it’s all about. The glorious mess of family – the feeling of home – whatever that means. The idea that being together is far more important than anything on our to-do lists, and that there’s a 4 year old out there who only really needs a pink skittle to be happy in this moment. So in light of finding a live show to rush to, think of that, and maybe you can feel what I felt today. Which was a relieving idea that we really don’t need much to be happy. And I’d rather be a shitty gift-giver than a pre-occupied daughter, or an unavailable friend. Because at the end of the day, you’re enough. Just you, no matter the season, being here, is enough.