With the various stresses and busyness of the past few weeks, Christmas seems to have just popped up and is now just around the corner. Indeed, it caught me quite by surprise - somehow - on Monday that Christmas is next week already (I hope you aren't caught quite as unawares as I was).
In a letter written to his Michael on 19 December 1962, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
Well here comes Christmas! That astonishing thing that no 'commercialism' can in fact defile - unless you let it. I hope, my dearest, that it will bring you some rest and refreshment in every way, & I shall remember you in communion (as always but especially) and wish that I had all my family beside me in the ancient patriarchal way!Yes, indeed: Here comes Christmas, less than a week away. Am I ready to celebrate it with the proper joy and enthusiasm the great solemnity deserves? Not yet, but I hope soon to be. I want to recover the simple Christmas joy of my youth, the sheer wonder of it all. Are you ready?
That important phrase from Tolkien's letter - unless you let it - is one that each of us should dwell on in the coming days. The stresses and busyness - the shopping and wrapping and writing and baking and cleaning and decorating and visiting and shoveling (soon to come) and what not - need not distract us or weigh us down - unless we let them.
If we keep our focus we will be able to truly sing with the Psalmist: "O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds" (Psalm 71:17).