It’s a good thing the season of Advent is all about waiting because I’m all about waiting until the last minute to do anything about getting ready for Christmas. Oh, would that it were because I was busy keeping Christmas in my heart. That’s what I want it to be about, but with the kids’ college applications, performances, final projects and exams, plus their being sick—again—it’s about too little time in the day.

Still, it beats where we were last year. That alone makes me feel joyful, even if the physical representations of joy have yet to be unpacked in our household. Trust me, I do remember the spirit of last Christmas past. We were happy enough to taste relief and to believe we could see an inkling of the promise of something better to come.

I’ll gladly take the everyday chaos that’s holding back this year’s preparations. I’d like to believe I will never again take the frustrations of typical days for granted . . . but I am human, after all. It’s so easy to forget to keep Christmas in your heart in December, let alone all the year through. I, for one, don’t have the saintly attitude of a Tiny Tim against the little challenges, let alone against the really big ones.

Forgive me for the gratitude I don’t express nearly enough.

Tonight we plan to wrap our gratitude in the blankets Jackson prepared for Children’s Hospital’s Snow Pile event. Since he is not germ-free enough to deliver them, Sherman and I will need to be the messengers of our thanks for not needing those blankets in our own home this year. Is that task so hard, really?

I don’t think so.

Last year one night while driving to visit my daughter in the hospital, I listened to the Barenaked Ladies CD, Barenaked for the Holidays. Children’s Hospital, complete with the flashing lights ready for emergency helicopter landings, loomed into the dark night as the song “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” came on. I looked on all those lighted windows, knowing that place was full of kids who did not want to be there, especially for the holidays. I wondered, could they feel Christmas at all?

But, just a few days earlier, I had felt Christmas at the Snow Pile event and knew somewhere there was Christmas for those kids, even if they couldn’t feel it—or didn’t know it—yet.

So we return this year to bring a little bit of Christmas into whatever shade some kids are experiencing:

At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade.
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy.
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime.
But say a prayer and pray for the other ones
At Christmastime.

It’s the least we can do in a world of people hungry for light.

Some things can wait during this season—like decorating our houses just so—but don’t wait to let others know it’s Christmastime again. Feed the world, however you can.

(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert