When December came up on the calendar, the countdowns kicked in to gear.
Countdown to Christmas break – 16 days.
Countdown to Christmas – 22 days.
Countdown to summer (and warmer weather!) – 182 days.
It’s a little hard to believe that Christmas is just around the corner, and I can’t help but be extremely excited. With that anticipation comes the anxiety that goes hand in hand with the holidays and the endless list of gifts to buy, shopping to do, and trees to trim. Christmastime is a spectacle with the decorations that range from a Charlie Brown tree to a house completely covered in lights.
At NDP we kick off Christmas with the best decorating event: Tree Trim. It’s hectic, it’s loud, it’s always very crowded.
Girls are packed into the foyer, decked out in festive sweaters and customary reindeer antlers and red noses. Off-key singing fills the halls as each advisory rep brings up an ornament to contribute to the tree. Cookies are devoured and demolished in the frenzy to snatch whatever your grade brought to the table.
As easy as it can be to get wrapped up in the chaos of Christmas, it’s important to take a step back and embrace the moment and the true meaning of the season. We can’t forget to follow the countdown of Advent: the wreath adorned with four candles representing hope, preparation, joy and love. For the next three weeks of waiting and preparing for Jesus, we will be focusing on a different kind of gift. Each day advisory prayer will center on the gifts we can offer each other, like the gifts of appreciation and love. While they may not come in flashy wrapping, these gifts are the better fit for Christmas. They make us stop and reflect on our lives and on how we can open our hearts to Jesus.
Ask any NDP girl, past or present, what their favorite liturgy is, and I guarantee they will say Christmas liturgy. It brings everyone together to celebrate one last time before break. The pull of this liturgy is so strong alumnae come back to join. Think about that – girls come back for a liturgy! It’s that special and amazing. Christmas liturgy always gives me chills – as each girl lights her candle, eventually growing and filling the auditorium with light. All united under a single flame, a single hope, as a community of blue and white.
I’m not saying rip up the to-do list, reveal the Secret Santas, or disregard the countdowns. That’s part of the fun of Christmas.
What I’m saying is, start a new tradition and think outside of the expertly wrapped gift box for what you’re going to give this year. Maybe you sit next to someone at Tree Trim to whom you normally don’t talk. Maybe you take some time to tell your best friend just how much you appreciate her or him, or tell your parents how much you love them. Whatever it is, do it with purpose and compassion. And don’t worry about how much time is left until December 25th.
Because at the end of the day, it’s the traditions and sisterhood that count.