Happy New Year.

It is the end of the first day of 2015, and I’m still in my pajamas. Almost all of us are. Everyone is still recovering from the ring-around-the-rosey virus that has run through our household this Christmas. (When one of us got it, we all fell down.)

(insert drum and cymbal sound here)

(Sam feels a sad trombone sound would be more appropriate.)

Anyway, I’m normally quite efficient at executing this first day of the year. I totally believe all that stuff about intention and habit and momentum and how we spend our days being how we spend our lives. I’m a planner and an organizer and a recovering Type A stress case.

Today is the least productive New Year’s Day I can remember.

There are piles of things everywhere. We had fast food for breakfast because we haven’t been to the store. The house needs cleaning and I ought to do laundry again. This afternoon, instead of going for a run, I took a nap with the baby.

Now the sun is setting on the piles of a string of days in a life lived but not cleaned up.

I could get really grumpy about this and fly around the house, setting everything on end and vacuuming the joy right out of here.

What I’m choosing, though, is gentleness. To handle myself gently. To handle my people gently. We are all recovering, and we deserve to be treated carefully. I’m choosing to handle my home gently…the joyful chaos of Christmas (which it still is, after all! Happy eighth day!) takes a while to subside and be absorbed into our routine. I can treat messes and imperfections and frustrations and obstacles gently instead of attacking them with my usual fervor. Gentle is the way to be right now. I’m choosing to embrace it instead of struggling against it.

In every church we have entered this Christmas, my children have asked to visit Baby Jesus. With surprising piety, they have knelt carefully in front of each crèche, folded their hands, and spoken tender words to the baby in the manger. All their exuberant Christmas energy has seemed to direct itself into those several small moments of holy quietness, a small triad gathered together before the manger, sibling squabbles temporarily forgotten. 

Although I’m taken with the beauty of the scene (and the sweetness of my children in front of it), I’ve been thinking about my own recent-born baby boy (five months old today!)…of the stream of visitors in his first weeks of life, of the joyous challenge of being the one to receive those who are there to see the baby. 

Everyone is there to hold and meet the baby. His mother just points the way. 

And today, on the first day of the new year, I feel her gently pointing me toward him. 

“Here he is. Be gentle.”

As I receive Baby Jesus into my arms, I resolve to remember those small ones entrusted to me. Each of them is Christ-in-the-least, a tiny person in need of my love and care. I will remember to treat them gently, with nurturing kindness instead of hurried efficiency, as a gentle mother once cradled her child in a stable.

And while I’m at it, I resolve to extend the same grace to myself.

Happy New Year to each of you and to your dear ones. May we all handle our gifts with care, whoever and whatever they are. 

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