Today’s make something activity kept me sane and focused during a day when I might otherwise have lost my mind.
Carry something with you all day—preferably something you’ve made—and document it in a variety of locations.
We’re three days from Christmas. I’m not one to get caught up in “getting ready.” I try to focus more on family time, a break from hectic routine, and our faithful understanding of the season—not just Christmas, but Advent and Epiphany as well.
So, in these last days leading up to Christmas Day, I avoid the mall. The gifts I plan to give are already here in my house or en route to far-away recipients.
But my kids have just begun their holiday break, and they need these last minutes to prepare for giving. All three had gift ideas for people they love … and all three like to go to the mall.
So the mall made it into today’s plan. After church, we’d go to the mall, do the kids’ shopping, have a little lunch, then come home and wrap until we wore out. As I dressed for church, I felt my body tensing at the thought of this agenda. But I steeled myself, zipped on my most comfortable boots, and resolved to make it happen.
Church came first. As we slid into the pew, I remembered the make something prompt. Ugh. I had nothing with me that I had made. It was time to improvise. I grabbed a pencil and piece of note paper, closed my eyes, took a long breath, opened my eyes, and wrote the first words that came to mind.
I added a simple illustration and knew I was ready. That slip of paper went with me everywhere today. I hope the photos below hint at the great value of these simple words in a day full of bustle and commerce. The first large image shows the purple note paper right after I drew on it. It’s resting on a hymnal, open to Advent hymns.
The other images show the note’s travels throughout this busy day:
- Encircled by the feet of friends who’ve just finished a rich discussion about faith and daily work.
- Held by a remarkable retail associate who made shopping seem more like entertainment.
- Resting on a heap of shopping bags.
- Leaning on a credit card reader.
- Tacked to the shirt of a little girl nibbling snacks with her sister, too tired and hungry to make another transaction without nourishment.
- Pinched between my fingers as my student driver took the wheel.
- Nestled between two sleeping kitties, oblivious to the gift wrapping and discussion happening just inches from their soft, warm bodies.
- Perched on the dining room table, set and ready for five of us to enjoy a simple meal together.
- Placed at last on my tired, slippered feet, which are now propped and beginning to feel the warmth of the fire from one side and the wine from the other.
What you don’t get from these images is the music inside my head, which may have been the most useful aspect of today’s exercise. From the moment I wrote “be still” and sketched that candle, I began humming a song we sometimes sing in worship at our church. The tune is simple and repetitive, and the words are only these: “Be still and know that I am God.”
That song, and that sentiment, kept me peaceful and positive today. What a gift.