In Light of the Busyness of Christmas

My great-grandpa Marshall used to say, “The bubble is going to burst.”

 I didn’t really understand what he meant by that at the age of 8. I pictured a giant balloon, filling with too much air, and finally popping, its pieces floating down to the ground. Is that what he meant?

21 years later, as I contemplate his words, I think I understand his metaphor. I think it meant that something has to give—something is going to break—something has to change.

Our society is consuming, spending, taking, grasping, and hording without thinking of the larger ramifications. Our government is caught in this trap. They shut down, in an attempt to prevent a bursting.

But I’m not here to spout political or social views. I’m here to foster discussion. I’m here to encourage re-thinking life.

I’m beginning to recognize the truth of the breaking point. My schedule easily fills with appointments, dinners, races, texting, movies, and trips. Amazon offers deals at a only a click away—oh, I’ll pay that credit card later! iTunes tempts me with music at my fingertips—only 99 cents! The brownies are ooey-gooey—I’ll work out later!

But, at some moment, the schedule tightens and becomes a noose.

Headphones are in. TV in the background. White noise. We are over-stimulanted to the point that our brains are in “attack” mode. We are in a defense posture. That is not a peace. That is adding to the pressure of the bubble, anticipating a ear-drum destroying burst.

This is NOT then living life. This is enduring it. Putting off the inevitable crack which will have devastating results. A part of one’s soul withers with each moment of time that is stuffed with meaningless things. “Be still and know I am God,” comes the cry from Psalm 55. This is a learned discipline. When I was a kid and my family would take road trips, at intervals, my mom would say, “Let’s say enjoy the scenery.”

No music or radio, just sitting, absorbing nature. What seemed boring then now seems completely amazing. I understand her point now. In quietness and reflection, your true self becomes apparent.

During the Christmas season, chaos erupts on a larger scale. Crowded malls, jammed schedules, extra munching, stretched budgets—all scream for our attention. And the bubble gets bigger and threatens to burst.

It’s time to ease the pressure. It’s time for a breakaway. This is the season for “something to give.” I think of all the gifts I usually buy—and cut back. I think of the multiple parties to attend—and politely decline one or two invitations. I think of the Christmas events and plays and candies and movies—and I make simple choices to eliminate a few. The pressure lets up. I can breathe easier.

I choose peace this year. I choose a simple celebration. I choose the quiet moments by the tree. I choose to say, “no,” to extra events and extra spending. I choose to absorb the mesmerizing beauty of the fresh snow and the lights on the tree. I choose to remember that the baby in the manger came to fix the brokenness of earth.

Grandpa Marshall was right. The bubble is going to burst.

Unless we choose to ease the pressure.

That sounds like a brighter alternative.


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