One of our favorite holiday traditions is one that we stumbled upon without meaning to several years ago.
It was Thanksgiving weekend and we had just finished decorating our Christmas tree (a real one, none of this fake tree business) and I was exhausted from all the work entailed with lugging boxes out of storage and finding enough working white lights to cover an 8 ft. tree. The kids were hungry and I didn’t have enough time or energy to prepare a real meal so I threw together a cheese & cracker plate. I pulled out a few veggies and some dip and then warmed up some leftover frozen pizza rolls in the oven. We had a bottle of Welch’s sparkling grape juice and all together, it made up our dinner that night.
The Christmas lights were twinkling and casting a beautiful golden glow in our living room that none of us wanted to miss. So instead of sitting at our dining table I scoured the dark recesses of my cabinets and found some old holiday paper plates and napkins and we made ourselves a little makeshift picnic right there next to the light of our tree. We huddled together on the floor around our little repurposed black coffee table and Aaron started sharing favorite Christmas memories. Soon he was asking the kids to share and before we knew it, we realized something special was happening. It was the beauty of the tree that drew us in but the sharing of our stories that kept us there. That night was like a wonderful gift hand delivered to us, completely unexpected and somewhat magical.
Now, almost 7 years later, it is one of the traditions we most look forward to. Every year, the weekend after Thanksgiving, we chop down our tree, drag it home, decorate it and then settle in for appetizers and stories by white lights.
Sometimes the most meaningful things happen without any preparation at all.
This season is full of planned parties, festivities and menus. And that’s not bad. There is a lot to be said for putting thought and detail into something and planning it out ahead of time. I love to have people in my home when we’ve scheduled it and I have the time to clean my house and plan a great menu. I love to set a beautiful table and make my guests feel special. But I have to tell you that some of the most life giving conversations that have taken place in my house, some of the most wonderful memories that have been made, have occurred when friends have dropped by unannounced. With no expectations and zero preparation on my part. Holy conversations have been held with crumbs on my counter and dirt on my floor.
In this busy season of scheduled everything, don’t be afraid to rogue once in a while. To toss a schedule or two to the wind, and to just show up. Somewhere. Perhaps for someone. There is beauty in the unannounced visit. There is healing in the unexpected word of encouragement. There is grace for the moment, whether you’ve planned for it or not.
A prayer: Father, teach us to make room in our schedule for you. We ask for your wisdom and guidance in our decisions. May you use us in unplanned ways to speak love and hope into the lives around us. May we experience more holy moments in the middle of our days.