Hopeful Minimalism

I’ve noticed a trend in my blogging over recent years: it seems that, each year, I write a post right around now about how Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Well, far be it from me to break tradition, so here it is.

Christmas decorations are basically non-existent for us this year, because, as I am a full-time student for a few more months, most of our  Christmas stuff is in storage. I’m contenting myself with the annual re-syncing of my phone’s music library to contain my Christmas music (there’s a lot), and a single Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Granted, Charlie Brown’s Christmas seems to have an especially important, even theological, role to play in my Christmas each year, so I’m not really complaining.

Advent? That’s in progress, but I’m missing it. There’s simply no time to make time.

In fact, anything other than school, family, or the sporadic writing binge essentially isn’t happening right now. In fact, I’m doing well to manage the first two, forget the third in that list. So, there’s some disappointment in me that’s driving the beginning of (my recognition of) the Christmas season this year. Disappointment because I will have no time for my hobbies or the the things with which I unwind for the next few months. Disappointment because school is to effect a career change, and the stress that goes along with that is crushing at times. Disappointment because, while I don’t miss where we used to live, I do miss our friends. Disappointment because I had always wanted to move on in an academic career, do another degree, maybe even be a professor, but I’ve given up on that dream, because being a student again at this point in my life…even for just a few months for a quick, non-degree certification…is more than I can effectively manage with a family, so I see no way that we could make it for two years or more if I completed another degree. I mourn the loss of that dream in a very pronounced way.

Yet, Christmas isn’t about disappointment, it’s about hope. And, perhaps there’s a built-in Advent experience in the fact that the dusk I’ve described above must necessarily lead to a dawn in the near future. The season lends itself to hope, hope for positive changes that could be just around the corner, hope that  political and national differences could be set aside in the name of peace for this most holy of seasons, and that we might spend more time finding what unites us rather than what divides us.

Hope for civility.

Hope for miracles, or rather my ability to see them as they already occur.

(Perhaps I should mention hope that I learn to live with real winters, again.)

Hope that, on the other side of this Christmas season, we find ourselves not necessarily more prosperous, but more grateful, more loved, more connected with what is outside of ourselves.

May your days be merry and bright…


  1. Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

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