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Happy Boxing Day! It’s the second day of Christmas! I hope your Christmas day was magical and lovely. And that today the celebration goes on. I know that for most Americans the 26th is the day the tree comes down, the decorations get packed away and a big sigh of relief goes up. It’s all done and over with. Except that it isn’t!
The 12 days of Christmas have just started, we’re only on day two of almost two weeks of celebration. But here’s the thing, you’ve got permission to slow down and have a different sort of celebration from here on out. If your December has been a mad dash, filled with errands and shopping, and parties, then this is your invitation to a very different sort of Christmas now that the rest of the world has moved on.
Christmas wasn’t originally meant to be a wild frenetic celebration. It started as a very quiet, counter cultural festival. It was a time for prayer, spirituality, service to the poor, and a reminder of just how loved we human beings really are. And that’s my invitation to you for the rest of these 12 days of Christmas. Wad up the to-do list and chuck it. Shove the decoration boxes back into the closet for a little while yet and sit the hell down lady. You deserve a rest. There is plenty of time, time to clean and time to make new years resolutions. But now isn’t that time.
Now’s the time for whole days spent in your pajamas, for sending the kids outside to get their wild energy out while you sip some tea and read a book and ignore the mess they’re making while on break. Let it go and let yourself have a slow Christmas.
Here’s the thing. You are loved, not because you are super put together, not because you are successful, just because you are you. Your house can be a mess and you’ll still be just as loved. You can have lost your patience entirely, still loved. You might not want to make a single resolution for the new year because you are bloody exhausted and you are still just as loved. That’s what Christmas, at it’s core, is about. About love so big, and so wild, and so indescribable that it became flesh and blood. Love, crying and nursing, how wild is that.
What does Christmas as a spiritual practice look like? It looks like settling into the idea of being loved. Whether you come from a religious tradition where that is assumed, or you don’t resting in love is
perhaps the most radical spiritual practice you can engage in.
Being loved is something that takes practice, does that seems strange? It shouldn’t, it’s why marriage is so hard, why friendship is so hard to do right. Letting ourselves be loved goes against everything we’ve been taught. Because being loved isn’t something you can control, it isn’t something you can earn. My husband will sometimes ask me why I love him and the answer is I’m sure utterlyunhelpful, because I do. Resting in love means accepting love as a fact and a gift just as it is. And then, trying to live up to it.
There’s the weird part, because you don’t earn love but love does require something of you. To be loved is a weighty thing, and it requires a response. I’m not talking about some sort of creepy “I love you so you must love me” shit. That’s stalking, not love. No, real love is a free gift, but it lights a fire inside the one who is loved. It fills up our soul and overflows it so that we can love others.
And, here’s the kicker, so we can love ourselves. My husband taught me how to love myself. He leant me his eyes and taught me to see myself the way he does. He leant me his heart and let me feel what he feels for me. There’s no way to be deeply and truly loved and not be changed by that experience.
If you chose to accept your assignment it is this, to live the season of Christmas as if you are loved, because you are. Deeply and profoundly. To look in the mirror and see an utterly beautiful, unique and amazing creature. Be, and do not need to earn your right to exist. Spend time not being productive, because you are valuable for more than your productivity. Spend time caring for yourself, because you are worth caring for. Find ways to laugh, and to play, and to treat yourself the way you’d treat your most true love. Banish the critical voices, let them know they’re no longer welcome.
What gift do you need right now? Is it time, or gentleness, or space to create or breath? Give yourself the gift of what you need, give it as a gift from the Divine that loves you.