In this last week of bustling and hustling and wrapping and directing, I am feeling deep the need to gather close to my family and live a bit smaller.

This month nearly bursts at seams with activities, projects, service and traditions, and so I am trying to slow to receive these days.

Receive with gratitude. Not tearing frantically through the packages under life’s tree with nary a thank-you or glance over my shoulder. But trying to slow enough to see and, like Mary, treasure it all up in my heart.

When I slow to receive the what-is all around me, I find blessed surprises.

Like a musical company delivering a recital on a weekday afternoon. The playbill for the “Young Opera Singers” informs me that they not only sing, but also “do plays.” Who knew this combination of talents lived in my very own home?

I enjoy an unexpected Friday dinner out with my family that ends in long, loud giggles and Christmas stories on the bedroom floor.

I witness the joy of cousins building a gingerbread village and the look of pride on the face of a 3-year-old who constructed her own house (with the help of her grandma, Gaga). “Look at my A-frame!” Lala calls.

I behold a spectacular plate of cookies created by Nana, Mama and the girls — touched by cutters, fingers, frosting and a multitude of accessories.

I enter a winter wonderland, created by girls who snip snowflakes and attach ribbon with scotch tape to make flakes flurry like the real thing. And I see pure glee, littlest one rolling on her bed kicking feet with mouth wide open because big sisters clothed her bedroom wall in clouds and snowfall. “My sisters are so nice to me!” she exclaims. All three beam.

Over these last weeks, I’ve felt soul and body weary. I am not alone in this, I know. The demands this time of year drain. And while I try to take time to breathe and savor Christ’s coming, it is an every day challenge.

Many days I can’t seem to fill enough to pour out without feeling bone dry brittle.

So until next Tuesday (when I post my last installment for now in the Tuesday grace series), I will be taking a break to receive the most glorious gift of his coming and hold in heart and hand the goodness of these days.

May you open slowly the gift of grace to be truly present in the now and here. Christmas will come whether we are frantic or not, so perhaps we could choose not.

May cupping goodness — and really seeing it — cause us to brim with hearts of worship for the One who fills. And may our overflow be with joy thanks for the One who loves us, came down to save us and who draws near in the beautiful ordinary each day of the year.

Merry Christmas, dear ones.

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