Firmly Packed

brown sugarAs I worked on the last batch of cookies today, I had a thought.  I pretty much have the basic cookie recipe memorized:  1-2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup butter, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 cup of white sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar. Then add in the flavorful bits – nuts, chips, raisins, hunks of venison.

The white sugar pours sweetly into the measuring cup, its crystalline granules piling on top of each other.  It sparkles like snow. Not so its evil twin. The brown sugar I have to gather up by the handful, dumping it into the cup.  The same thing always happens, whether it’s dark or light brown sugar. The stuff gets under my nails and all over my hands.  Great for exfoliation but icky for doing anything else.

When directed to use brown sugar, it always specifies “firmly packed”.  Okay.  Does anyone ever loosely pack it?  It makes me think of going on a trip.  “Honey, I’m firmly packed.  Finally! Oh wait.  Socks.  I’ll need those.”

As I pressed the sugar into the container firmly but without prejudice, I thought about how our lives sometimes seem packed.  This yuletide season, we have parties, concerts, performances, services and gatherings.  Forget about shopping, cooking, baking and cleaning. I haven’t even started wrapping presents yet.  My life feels packed to the max right now.

Frankly, I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year. I love all the beauty of the Christmas story, the holy times built into the days. I enjoy the bright lights and good cheer.  But I struggle with feeling overwhelmed, drowning in meeting all the markers of the festive season. Sometimes even staying festive is a challenge. As sweet as all these holiday activities are, I have to remember to build in some space.  Times shared with friends and coffee.  Running. Just breathing in God’s presence and remembering to be thankful all help me stay moored to the reason we celebrate. This is where the rhythm of a routine keeps me level.

Just one more day before Christmas and the birth of the holy child.  I’m going to keep loose and let Him fill in my empty spaces.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6


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