Go Back

The magic of Christmas - incourage.me

It was a simple question, and one I doubt he expected would cause me to burst into tears.

I’ll admit it surprised me too.

“Ang, what do you want for Christmas?”

We were brushing our teeth, sharing a space, wearing mismatched pajamas.

And the dam broke.

“I don’t know. I don’t know!” I said it aggressively, twisting the toothbrush and avoiding eye contact in the mirror.

My heart was pounding and I felt angry. I didn’t have the slightest clue why, but being the Proverbs 31 wife I am, I expected him to know.

“Okay.” He said it quietly, because we both knew it wasn’t about the question.

It was about why I couldn’t give an answer without crying.

I put my toothbrush back in the cup and covered my face.

“I don’t know why I’m so upset.” I offered.

He hugged me in a way that said, “I want to be doing whatever I’m supposed to do as a good husband and I’m also a little fearful for my life.”

It was sweet.

I shook my head, which he knows means I need time to process.

“Well, when you think of something, just let me know.” I nodded, using the corner of a t-shirt I’ve owned for at least a decade.

After he left, I tried to get to the bottom of it. (Spoiler alert: I’m not entirely sure I have.)

Did I just want him to know without asking? Maybe, but I wouldn’t cry over it. In fact, I am kind of the type of girl who doesn’t mind saying she would like a specific sweater in a certain size from the one store down the street and also, no pressure, I put it on hold under your name.

Here’s another alternative: lately I’ve been way underwater and feeling like ten million people are asking me forty million questions and I don’t know the answers and I kind of want to hide and here is another question I can’t answer and I kind of want to hide because my brain is tired and I kind of want to hide (I may have mentioned that). Well, that has some merit. Maybe a little of that.

Also, it’s a lot of pressure for a type-A person like myself, because typically the Christmas present is bigger than other gifts and if this is my golden ticket, I don’t want to waste it. AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT, SO CHOOSE SOMETHING GOOD.

Some of that. Probably some of that.

None of these are options that would make me cry. And since I was still bawling, I was willing to bet there was something else underneath it.

He can’t give it to you.

I heard that, but I didn’t understand it.

Here’s the part where a good Christian writer would reference the gift that only God can give, but that’s so not where I’m going. My apologies.

It was an ache. A genuine, deep, grieving-type ache.

I wanted the magic to come back to Christmas.

I wanted it to be more than two people brushing their teeth, going through the motions, trying to figure out how they were going to get the tree up, get the presents wrapped, organize all the family gatherings so that no one feels left out and on and on and on.

I closed my eyes and thought about how it felt to fall asleep as a seven-year-old on Christmas Eve.

That’s what I want, Todd. Wrap it up, slap a bow on it, and let’s go back to when everything was simple.

When did Christmas go from anticipation to execution? From excitement to obligation? From dreaming to planning?

When did my life start to look like this instead of that?

I miss it.

Do you?

Do you ever long for your heart to do somersaults when you think about what’s waiting for you instead of worrying about doing it right?

I have theories on this, naturally. {I’m looking at you, Instagram. Heyyyy, Facebook…I see you.}

I want to go back.

I miss that girl.

So this year, I’m trying to figure out how to answer the question. Not just for Christmas, but for every single day: What do I want?

I want less planes, less stress, less feeling inadequate at everything because I’m stretched thin. I want to embrace the peace that Jesus has promised me and stop chasing every other thing that moves.

I think I was rattled by Todd’s question because I don’t know what I want; like many of us, I suppose I stopped asking that long ago.

But life is running past me, and all I know is that I want to go back.

That’s my heartbeat this year—getting back to genuine excitement, a true sense of direction and purpose, and the courage to drown out the voices that tell me I have to keep up.

Want to join me?

In the meantime, Toddy, my love…

There’s something with your name on it at Anthropologie. You can run and go grab it and wrap it terribly (which I love) and then ask me to wear it while you tell me I look beautiful (which you will because you always do, and I’ll shake my head because I don’t even know what you see).

But I’ll smile because I want to believe she’s still there, and I think she is.

So I’m going back, and I’m going to find her.

And next year, when you ask me, I’ll have an answer that makes me smile. I’m sure of it.

I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m already excited, which means, well, dare I say it?

It’s never too late for magic.

comments:
share:
  • Melanie Vanlaningham

    “Less stress, less feeling inadequate, more peace” Yes, please! I’ll take some of that! Desperate to be experiencing more of his peace and less of what this world is offering. You have me thinking this morning! (And dreaming)

  • Cassi

    Oh, how I understand your response and echo your desire. Thank you!

  • http://walkingwellwithgod.blogspot.com Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God

    Angie,
    Usually I am in the same boat as you…frantically wrapping gifts behind closed doors in my bedroom on Christmas eve while everyone else relaxes and chats downstairs. I know that worn down feeling that all I can do is cry. This has been Christmas for me.

    But this past year, God sidelined me with two surgeries so I was not able to work. After being a single mom, I was blessed by a new marriage that enabled me to not have to work. Being, literally, forced to slow down by God, I caught that Christmas magic again. Many thanks to Ann Voskamp and her Advent devotional “The Greatest Gift”, I spent quiet time with God each day and actually had time to pray and reflect…easy to do when you can’t walk. I got Christmas cards out early instead of my usual after Christmas delivery. I shopped on-line and got to be good friends with the cheerful UPS driver.

    In short, God forced me to slow down…to be still… to spend time with Him and in His word and it was there that I found what my soul desperately needed. For one Christmas in my life, I actually feel revived. I know this is not possible for everyone and my circumstances were unique, but it has brought to light how simpler is indeed better and wasn’t that how Christmas was when we were kids…it was simple.

    Thank you for sharing from the heart and being real about what most of us, who make Christmas happen, experience. Feeling blessed that I was forced to let God make Christmas happen this year…praying for peace and magic for you once again…
    Blessings,
    Bev

  • Sarah Skinner

    This is beautiful Angie! Thank you for sharing your heart this morning. My one word this year ‘present’ skipped out on me back in March. It changed to a sentence. “Love stays home.” I was being pulled in so many directions early on in the year there was no way I could be present. I was always absent, somewhere other than right here in the gift of my life God gave me. It took a rude awakening in the form of an unknown (at the time) illness. In the process of not knowing I grasped a the sentence…”Love stays home.” I’ve clung to it all year. Come December the illness returned and we have received a bucket load of grace diagnosis. But, for me…Love stays home has been the return of magic in my life. Blessings for you. I hope you find your sentence.

  • http://recollecteddesign.com/ heather m.

    You hit the nail on the head with exactly how I think a lot of us are feeling… Thank you Miss Angie for explaining it so well ♥ I got to “go back” a little this Christmas because I found a box of ornaments and things my mom gave me at the end of last Christmas season- she was purging her decorations and thought I might enjoy them- things I remember loving when I was a kid… so I went back to my childhood a little as I decorated my home this year and it was pretty magical- even if only for a little while. Sometimes all we need is just little glimpses to keep the magic alive ♥

  • https://ninetyeightcentsworth.wordpress.com/ Kerry

    I am so grateful for your post today. You have helped me to examine the deep sadness I have struggled with this year. My children are grown and this is the first year they will spend Christmas in other places…hence, my husband and I are back to just the two of us. All those years I felt so frantic trying to make Christmas happen for everyone….well, this year is just the opposite….the most important ones in our family won’t even be near us. Perspective changes everything and I now long to return to those days when my children were young and I could share the magic of the holiday through their eyes.
    I am a Christian also, and I especially appreciate that you didn’t put the ‘Jesus fixes everything’ spin on this particular post. Sometimes the messy stuff of life needs our attention even while we know Jesus is in the midst of it all.
    Now it is time for me to find the magic again for myself, and your words have helped me to realize that. Thank you, and may you find your magical place again.

  • Lyn

    Hey Angie
    I hear ya’! LIFE has been this way for me, not just Christmas. I just want to hide. I am exhausted. I am GLAD you did not write about God’s perfect gift because so many Christian cliches get tossed out this time of year and I can’t take any more of those! One of the hardest years of the past disasterous 8 years has taken its toll on me so that I don’t even bother dreaming/praying/hoping for what I want because all my dreams were taken and restoration has not come.
    Thank you for being honest and letting me know that I am not alone in my wondering journey.

    • Jodi S

      *Hug* Just wanted to send some love and prayers your way.

    • Beth Williams

      Lyn,

      Just wanted to give you a hug from Watauga, TN. Know that I’m praying for you and your family! God will answer your prayers in His perfect timing!

      May you have a blessed Christmas!

  • Heather Bireley

    I so agree with your whole post. Thank you so much for putting into words how I feel this year.

  • Jen

    I had this deep need as well. I knew there was more. I began a Jesse tree with my children, but God had a different plan. He pointed me to Biblical Feasts, and Hanukkah through our homeschooling. And he sent me down a path where other Christians were who wanted the same thing. To worship and Celebrate God the way He wanted to be worshipped and Celebrated. I was given a book about Biblical Feasts, to look up Jim Staley on Youtube, and to visit the local Messianic Synagogue on Saturday. God rocked my world, shook it up, and gave me a new direction. I never want to look back. Listen to the Holy Spirit , and ask God what He is telling you. He is faithful to respond! :)

  • Penny

    Angie,

    The loss that you have described helps open up our hearts and minds to find what we are seeking. The beauty and magic is there to be found we just have to ‘believe’ it to be true……

    From my heart to yours , thank-you for such an honest and heartfelt post,
    Merry Christmas and blessings to all. I hope that the beauty and magic reappears for you this Season….

    Penny

  • Joanne Peterson

    I like your post! It’s true. I have felt pressure all over from the things that will eventually help my boys with the issues they have from things beyond our control before they came to be adopted….But, it’s more on my plate. The therapy, and the implementation. We were led to put our son in a charter school, (which has been very good for him). They also require 40 hours of volunteer time. Many of the volunteer opportunities fell during December. Christmas we have scaled way back out of exhaustion. Many other changes putting more on my plate.

    Then I felt the nudge to enjoy the simple, and being nudged by other comments through other people. Looking at the Christmas lights with the boys. Driving around and then yelling from the driver’s seat, ‘lights on David’s side, lights on Dalton’s side, lights on both side,’ then loving the excitement in their voices. Loving them pointing out the Nativity scenes. The talks about scripture in the Christmas songs, singing the Christmas songs. Reading the Christmas books to them. Loving the boys asking for hot chocolate and Christmas cookies and letting them eat it at the living room coffee table as something “Special”….and they are excited by the special permission. (They aren’t allowed to eat anywhere other than the kitchen table without special permission.) Loving the boys liking the Charlie Brown Tree and them decorating the crooked tree and them thinking it is beautiful with all the lights. Seeing their magic in their excitement has been good therapy…..and this time will pass by if I’m distracted.

    As I’m typing this, I am sensing God our Daddy whispering about Him taking pleasure in our pleasure and it is making me cry….

    Thank you again Angie!

  • Jodi S

    Wow…you hit the nail on the head with that one. Thank you for sharing your heart. *Hug* :)

  • Donna Marie

    my heart was so in tune with you today ~ Blessings as you rekindle the magic of Christmas! Joy & Happy all over your family this Christmas! WONDERFUL READ xoxo

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com Marty

    I love your posts because you are so real and relatable. I see myself many times in what you write, and it’s so refreshing. I get tired of the “my life is perfect and yours can/should be, too.” I think you are on the right track. Recognizing your need…our need…for SOMETHING (someONE) more has gotta be a step in the right direction, right? And that quiet voice of the Spirit, “He can’t give it to you…” so true. Thank you for the reminder that the only way to “go back,” is to “embrace the peace that Jesus has promised.”

  • Michelle

    Thank you!! I so needed a good eruption this morning and your beautiful words gave it to me! I am officially 7 years old again(in my heart) as of right now!! And my two week break starts tomorrow morning and I am thankful to God for the 180 degree turnaround before I wasted it! Bless you! Merry Christmas!!

  • http://www.ginakemp.com Gina Kemp

    Yes yes yes!!! This encapsulates the heart of all of us who are desperate to go back to childlike simplicity and beauty. Somehow and somewhere in adulthood we fall off the track and get onto a new road of expectation and pressure and should have and need to. I like you miss childlike. I miss wonder. I miss awe. I miss not be jaded. I miss only needing the simplicity of building a snow man to make my day! My kids teach me everyday how to be more of that girl. Here’s to letting go of expectation and grabbing onto what really matters.

  • http://stewmama.blogspot.com Susan

    Oh Ang, such true and beautiful words. And even though I’m ‘out of the trenches’, so to speak, since our 5 are grown, I so remember all the days of execution that often overshadowed the anticipation. (Execution isn’t even a nice sounding word, now, is it?) I pray for you, for all of us, to uncover the magic. It’s under there somewhere, I know it. After all, that patient, loving God of ours is right there. Always. Love to you and your beautiful family this Christmas.
    God bless, Susan (the cruise ship hat lady, lol)

  • Yolanda D Young

    WOW! Everything you wrote is what I’ve been feeling……not just because fo this Holiday Season …but because of all the changes that have occurred in my life. I do long for when life was simpler…and had anticipation and excitement. It is so comforting to know I’m not alone with my feelings. God Bless You!
    Yolanda

  • Elaine Pool

    Oh, honey, I’ve SO been there, as recently as last year! Wondering where the magic went; looking around at 2 pm Christmas Day, & asking myself, “where is Christmas? is it over already?”
    NOT to put any pressure on you (I survived Christmas with 4 littles, also), but this year, I started listening to Christmas music in early November, started shopping and finishing way early, and got the presents wrapped extra early (for me).
    This year, I’m feeling that Christmas magic again – you can get it back! Just know that every year is a different year, and your kids won’t remember much, other than their feelings of wonder, so don’t try to be Wonder Woman.

  • Ashley

    When I initially began to read this I was touched that the message was to slow down long enough to reconnect with our hearts, to deflect the message that ‘keeping up’ is paramount. The very next paragraph plugs for an overpriced retailer which is so go-with-the-cultural-flow it burst my bubble.

    For a minute I was intrigued.

  • http://www.nancyaruegg.com Nancy Ruegg

    Angie, I’m praying as I type that God miraculously removes a few things from your to-do list, an event or two are cancelled, you and Todd find a time-slot to do some zip-zap wrapping, and by Christmas Eve you are reveling in hot chocolate and kids–or something like that! God surely knows better than I what would bring back the magic into THIS Christmas so you don’t have to wait for next year. Blessings to you, young Mom, and MERRY Christmas, even now.

  • Laurie

    Thank You for sharing the real life struggles of today. The feelings of being overwhelmed to the point of wanting to hide and not knowing what you want have been my struggle this year. Comforting to know other Christian women are working through a messy season in life as well. God had a plan – I hang onto that.

  • Sabrina

    I want to dream again!

  • Brandi Luiz

    Angie, I love your real, pure, raw self. The one that let’s us see you for you. You are a blessing!

  • http://spokenbeauty.wordpress.com Jennifer

    Gorgeous honesty!! Sparkling! Absolutely endearing. Thank you for giving so many thoughts a true voice so we can all feel validated and encouraged!

  • http://spokenbeauty.wordpress.com Jennifer

    And hooray for Anthropologie! Good for you. Again, I love that you were so real.

  • cathy

    Yes.

  • Jenny

    Angie, this is my Christmas present emailing you. I hope you read this and know that I read your story last year about losing Audrey and it helped me tremendously. I lost my my son David at birth, he was born into heaven 1983 and I had never grieved for him. I read about what you went through and the entire blog history and for the first time I started to grieve and am healing thanks to you. I also have recieved great comfort from Todd’s music and Nicol’s music.
    I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. .May God Bless you all.
    Jenny

  • http://www.ponderinginhispresence.blogspot.com Joy

    Refreshingly real. Thank you.

    I was reading in Hebrews this morning…the famous “Hall of Faith Fame”…and it struck me that so many listed there didn’t even see the promise fulfilled. All their footsteps walked faith, yet they failed, if you will, in seeing the fulfillment. They didn’t know they wouldn’t see the fulfillment, they believed. They walked each day with anticipation and obedience. Maybe that’s where the “magic” is found. The “magic” of Christmas and every day….is in the anticipation and expectation of the promise of the Majestic One. Living believing…excited…with the confidence and assurance “of what we do not see”…the “magic” :-)

    I didn’t have a wish list this year, so everything/anything will be a surprise. Maybe that helps to keep the ‘wonder’ too. Maybe not knowing what you want isn’t such a bad thing.

    Although I went through a “season” of years of the stress and expectations of this time of year (which found me at Emergency in the hospital between Christmas and January annually with anxiety and burn-out), I have discovered it’s ok, as the new popular song lyrics express, to “let it go”. Hahaha…there’s a lot of truth found there! As God and I have readjusted my personal requirements for Christmas, (it had sort of been like the legalism and laws of the Pharisees) I’ve discovered I can fully embrace Christmas with fun, and yes, believe it or not, even some relaxation.

    Praying that over these next few days of Christmas rush, you will experience Christ’s rest.
    Love and hugs,
    Joy

  • http://www.jennadamswrites.wordpress.com Jennifer Adams

    “Do you ever long for your heart to do somersaults when you think about what’s waiting for you instead of worrying about doing it right?” This resonated so deep with my heart. It’s been a struggle for a while. I just didn’t have the words for it. My prayer is the same. I want to rest in the peace of this season and in life with Christ. I’m tired from all the noise telling me what I “should” be doing. It’s the wheel that keeping spinning.

  • Christy

    yes, yes, yes…..thank you….

  • Celie

    The magic of Christmas a child is born in each of us who receive new life eternal. That eternal child called from above we each receive when we ask him in our heart! The fragrance of knowledge I prayed for my Compassion sponsored child Keven and found out yesterday he has been redeemed saved buy the grace of Him born to die. Great Christmas present for sure my heart truly leaped within!

  • Denise

    Okay, so as I sit here…crying….when I should be getting myself and my 3 kids ready for church! I have realized that my discussion last night with my husband about what I was feeling…what was missing….that I could not verbalized very well…is now written down in these words you gave me this morning. God heard my prayers So, I just forwarded this to my husband and told him “this is it, this article explains what last night was all about!”
    So thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to borrow your words! And thank you God for giving them to me through you this morning before church.
    Love,
    Denise

  • http://talkthetalkkh@blogspot.com Karen Thompson

    Yes, I want the magic back, but the Jesus kind that brings simplicity and hope. Many people in this world will not have peaceful, let alone a magical Christmas, but we need to find the joy somehow to find the blessing of Christmas.
    The western world church is not taught how to cope with suffering, as it is often seen as a weakness, But the bible does say we will have troubles, but to find Jesus and Joy in the midst of whatever we are suffering is the mystery and the blessing of the Christian faith.

  • Mandy

    Oh Angie – this is so me this year! Thank you for sharing, and for giving me hope!!

  • http://www.becomingsummer.blogspot.com somer

    So I needed to read this. Just for the honesty factor truly. That you couldn’t put your finger on the what but that description of the gnaw and ache was real to me. I’ve felt that all fall. And it’s been painful. Yet I know that question is necessary for healing. Introspection is so hard. But necessary for change.

  • Trudi

    It’s not even just the hustle and bustle and being overbooked…it is deeper than that. I’m a single adult, my nieces and nephews are all grown up…and I think, well, it’s the joy and wonder of kids that makes Christmas, that’s why it’s not so much fun anymore. What do I want for Christmas? Yes, it would be nice to be able to “go back”! I want time with a cosy, loving, Hallmark-type family (umm, does that really happen?!) I’d like someone to do something unexpected and loving and lavish for me, just because… But when that doesn’t happen, as it probably won’t? Then, I will thank God for the little things – the beauty of Christmas lights, the fact that I have my own little home to return to, that loving cats are waiting for me…that I have a job I enjoy, but meanwhile, days off to spend as I like…that my friend will host her annual New Year’s gathering for single friends and we’ll have a great time together…my mother always said “Life is what you make it” – Chuck Swindoll says it’s all about attitude. And I choose to have a good attitude this Christmas! I think gratitude may be the key…and perhaps, to take the focus off me, by doing some good for someone else?

  • Lina

    Oh, honey! Wishing (& praying) that you feel the magic again… The God filled magic of the Season!

    I hear ya and I feel ya!! My favorite Christmas movie is the Grinch Who Stole Christmas (the cartoon version) and I watch it every year without fail… It is not “Godly” and I don’t care (usually) but it makes me smile. It warms my heart deep inside as my little self remembers watching it all my life.

    Go back and find what makes you happy and do it… see how that moves everything else… and I am praying for ya!

    Lina

  • Beth Williams

    Angie,

    I am so there this year Angie! This has been my toughest year ever! Watching my aging dad go down hill both medically and mentally. Also job changes for hubby and worry about my job, Etc. It has been to much for me to handle.

    I have sat on my couch many a days just wanting to go and hide–move to some big farm out in the middle of nowhere and hide from the world. There is a deep need to just stop all the madness and just sit quietly while breathing in Jesus!

    Have a Blessed Christmas!

  • muchalone

    I love your honesty…and I love the sweet love that comes into your story in hints and humor…I couldn’t answer that question when my husband asked this year…and I haven’t been able to for a few years…because I can’t have what I want most…
    I LOVE the preparations–buying, making, wrapping and giving gifts. I think I enjoy the giving more than the getting…but not the exhaustion! It seems to make me wearier each year…and lately…well, it’s more exhausting because I lost my teammate…my husband has checked out…I see the shell of him here, but he isn’t really in there…it’s just a facade…and what I really want is for real to be part of life together…and that’s the gift that eludes…