Noticing the bow













Christmas is different now than it was when I was a kid.    Then, I could lie on my stomach on the carpet and color in a Santa coloring book, dreaming about the presents I’d get in a few days’ time; now, I’m the one wrapping the presents until 1 AM.  Then, I only had to do the fun work of cutting out and decorating Christmas cookies; now, I am the one pulling everything out of the kitchen  cupboards, trying to remember if I actually own a sifter.

It’s still a fun season, don’t get me wrong … but it’s different.  There’s the weight of Responsibility on my shoulders, hoping to get everything done before December 24th and always mourning the things that I did not quite manage to do.

Two nights before Christmas, though,  I had a bit of an epiphany.  I was in the spare room wrapping gifts late at night, just wanting to get the job done.  Fold paper, apply tape; grab a bow out of the bag, peel the backing off, stick it on; find and  write on tag, stick on package. Done.  Repeat.

Then I looked back at my small pile of wrapped gifts and was struck by the prettiness of one of the bows.  It had red underneath and green on top; the effect was lovely.












It was just a little thing, but it didn’t feel little.   One beautiful bow pulled me out of my grim assembly-line mood and made me realize that even though I have a zillion things to do and probably always will as a mother whose life just seems to get busier and not easier as the kids get older, I can survive it all by letting my soul be refreshed by the little things.

It’s not a new or original realization, not even for me.  I’ve written about this before, often.  Is it a sign of weakness in me that I need to keep re-learning it, re-discovering it?  Perhaps, but beating myself up isn’t what helps.  What helps is to know that there are so many variations on this same lesson, and that there are always  new opportunities to learn it.

Holiness is a loaded word, and one that I never feel comfortable applying to myself.  As I paused in my folding and taping and pondered the two-toned ribbon, though, I thought, Maybe this is what holiness is.  Maybe holiness is all about noticing the bow. 

May your twelve days of Christmas be holy ones.

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