We are coming into that season where those of us who celebrate Christmas are constantly asking ourselves (and each other) “Are you ready?” Am I ready? Have I done enough, prepared enough, remembered everyone, BOUGHT ENOUGH? Are you done? Have you wrapped? Are your cards out?
This weekend, it was put to me that maybe we should ask ourselves a different question. Am I awake? Perhaps our To Do lists and our Not Done lists and our “I will beat myself up over this later because I do not have time” lists are preventing us from being awake and alive to the beauty of the coming year? It’s a whole new year. Anything can happen. Anything at all. It may be a great year or a terrible year or one of the many wonderful wonderful years that are neither.
I know every year I talk about this Debt Free Holiday thing, but I usually ignore our emotional debts. We think about being frugal with our money and using our time efficiently, but do we think about the way we spend our spirits? The constant struggle to “keep up,” to be “ready” is draining. It batters us, and it’s a burden we don’t share with our families. Every single woman I know carries this load alone, sometimes even with the added burden of criticism from a spouse who doesn’t understand why it’s important. It’s a bigger load at holiday time, but we carry it all year.
This year, I want to put that burden down. Let’s take shortcuts. Let’s delegate. Let’s have time for coffee dates and spontaneity and feeding the hungry and lending a hand. Let’s be awake and alive to the possibilities- because maybe, as my dear friend Holly has said, maybe the mistake we make is in thinking that it matters whether we are “ready.” There are times when all the preparation in the world is not enough. There are times when not being prepared is nowhere near as important as being present. What if, in the end, what we should have done is make sure we are there for each other? What if we declare this the year of the kitchen door? You remember, right? When I was a kid, real friends came and knocked on the back door- the one that opens into the kitchen. Because they knew that’s where they’d find you. In the kitchen, the heart of the home, where the memories are made. Where the love is. Not in the front room, or at the decked out front door. Our real friends all knew that we were in the back. In the cozy part of the house where the day to day happens.
So no, I’m not ready. But come knock on my kitchen door and let’s have coffee. We can be unready and alive and awake together. And it will be beautiful.