By Suanne Camfield
Although today is December 26, one day after Christmas has officially ended, if your family is anything like mine, Christmas is anything but over. In fact, as you read this I’ll be traveling eight hours by car, giddy with anticipation for another family gathering filled with eager children, mounds of presents and cookies galore.
And if your mailbox is anything like mine, it’s still welcoming Christmas cards, stragglers written by people who care just as much but couldn’t quite pull off all the addressing and licking and stamping before the post office officially closed its holiday doors.
I didn’t want 2011 to end without sending my own Christmas greetings to you, our beloved FullFill readers. My hope is that you will welcome this letter like the stragglers in your mailbox, from a friend who wants to wish you a Merry Christmas before THE DAY, but didn’t quite make the cutoff.
Every year I start my Christmas letter the same way – by telling the people I send it to that I wasn’t going to write one. I usually make the decision sometime in November, determined not to add one more thing to an already busy season, then exhort myself to stand firm: YOU.WILL.NOT.WAVER.
But, then –every year—something happens. A moment subtly and unexpectedly comes to life and wraps its tiny hands around my heart. And I find myself, once again, tapping away.
This year, I was clearing some Christmas cards out from last year’s card holder, making room for the new ones that had begun piling up on my kitchen counter when I came across a cute little card with a puppy wearing a Santa hat. Not remembering who sent it, I opened the card and smiled when I saw my grandma’s familiar signature. She passed away in January at 93. It was the last card I’d ever receive from her.
Card in hand, I paused for a moment, thinking how her penmanship reminded me of my mom’s, and then tucked the card back in with the others. It didn’t technically belong there, but throwing it away didn’t seem possible. It was, like so many moments we experience in any given year, one that presented a choice: simply toss it aside in a rush to get to the next thing, or let it linger and fill me and move me in a way that compels me to stop. And listen. And reflect.
That’s when I knew I’d be writing yet another Christmas letter.
In many ways, my year year could be categorized as an accumulation of blurred and rushed moments. It was the first full year my family experienced “mom” back at work (after eight years as a stay-at-home mom) while my husband continued to expand his role at the church where he works, while my two elementary age kids were just busy being kids. The four of us worked hard to incorporate things like rest and boundaries, but we couldn’t seem to dodge the season of life we found ourselves in – we’re just plain busy.
Which is why I love the Christmas moments. The ones that make us pause in the midst of the hard and breathless and chaotic and remember that life is full of moments that are rich and good and overflowing with love and laughter and grace. Moments worth pausing for—card in hand—and sopping up and soaking in. Because of that, we’re reminded to grab as many as we can, choosing to value relationships more than schedules, time more than money, neighbors more than ourselves and a Jesus worth pursuing more than any of the rest.
It’s been a privilege to travel through 2011 with you. Thank you for letting us invade your inboxes every Monday morning. My prayer for each of you as we close this year and look forward to the next is that you’ll intentionally pause—even as you live out your influence—long enough to grab a hold of your own moments and tuck them away for another year to come.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year on behalf of your friends at FullFill!Suanne Camfield is the Blog Manager for FullFill and a freelance writer. She works at InterVarsity Press and is a founding member of the Redbud Writer’s Guild.