4. requiring or taking a long time for growing, changing, or occurring; gradual
My Christmas wish for this year is quite simple: I want to be counter-cultural. In a season when the world tells us to rush, rush, rush, buy, buy, buy and do, do, do, I want to go slow. I want to soak up every moment this season and it's only possible for something to soak if it sits for a while.
From the outside, our lives might not look slower this season. There are still parties to attend, crafts to make, cookies to bake. Each girl wants her very own shopping trip - to buy gifts for her sisters and her dad. I want time with friends old and new. These are all good things and we will do them as time allows. But whether it's visible or not, I feel slower. And I mean that in the best possible way.
I can feel the rhythm of this season deep in me and it's not a rush, rush, rush. Instead, my inner rhythm is to go when necessary and stop when possible. More and more this season I'm not asking whether something should be done, but whether we want to do it. It was always important to me that we do the exact same things, the exact same way at Christmas. But I don't sense that desire in my daughters, so I'm not going to push them to do things just because we always do them. Instead I ask, "Do you want to?" And if the answer is "No," then we don't do it.
Yesterday, we went over to a friend's house to make Christmas bells. I picked up B & K early from school (something I would never have done a few years ago) so that we would have more time to be with our friends before J's work Christmas party. While we were there, A & K were rarely in the room with us - they played outside, upstairs, all around. But they were consistently uninterested in making an ornament. B made one ornament and helped others make several more while staying near the art materials, making an assortment of things. None of my three daughters actually did what I envisioned when we planned the afternoon. And that was fine with me.
They weren't bad guests. They weren't unkind friends. They weren't antisocial. They were just following their own internal rhythms. A played with my friend's twins who are several years younger, then curled up on the sofa to read a book she found laying around. K played with her friend and her friend's sisters, then continued playing while her friend drifted downstairs, working her way through assorted dress up clothes. B hummed, sang and generally entertained my friend and me. She helped choose just the right Christmas card to turn into an ornament, reminded us to put a real bell inside our paper bells, turned our rectangles into squares and generally acted like a 9 year old art teacher (which is exactly what she is).
We only had a few hours at our friends' house. We had to get home for the girls to head to their uncle & aunt's house. We had to get home so that I could soak in the bathtub, get dressed in party attire and go out on the town with my great date. But our limited time didn't feel rushed. It felt just right.
I am finding that the key to taking Advent slow is not in what or how much we do. The key is listening to the rhythm of our hearts and going when we want to go, staying when we want to stay and resting when we want to rest. If we approach Advent in this way, I think we'll find our very own epiphany - that this season is done best when done slowly.