December 1, 2023
Being snowed in for Christmas – it’s not just the plot of the newest Hallmark romcom or an unfortunate side effect of living in the Northeast, but the accidental and irreversible slowing down of the holiday season.
After all, there are decorations to hang. Presents to be bought, wrapped, packed. Flights to catch. Food to be made. Family to catch up with. Movies to watch. And don’t forget to volunteer your time, you should be giving back to the community! While we’re told this is the “most wonderful time of the year,” it can often feel like it’s the most stressful, instead. From November to January, there is more to do than in any other season. And most of our anxiety and hustle is glossed over with glitter and wrapped in ribbon, smiles on our faces saying “I’m doing good! Just busy.”
Then, a storm blows in.
Suddenly, there is no more rush. No chance to do last-minute shopping, let alone get out on the roads. The perfect itinerary is out the window. Snow is piled up into doorframes, icicles cling to the tree branches, the world is white, and Christmas is ruined.
Or is it? Let’s back up.
How is it possible that the holiday season got so busy in the first place? If we were to ask Charlie Brown, he’d say “Everything’s gone commercial.” And I’d have to agree. Often, what keeps us busy is the expectation of spending: from family and friends to home décor and the office white elephant party.
As the holiday momentum picked up in America in the early 1800s, marketers began to catch on to the potential of Christmas to sell goods . “In the early-to-mid 1900s, mass advertising campaigns full of holiday tunes and colorful decorations filled the radio airways and storefronts” . And this fanfare has built upon itself year after year. In 2021, holiday spending climbed to an astronomical $886.7 billion ! I’ll be the first to admit that I represent an embarrassing percentage of that number. No one is immune to a little bit of commercialism.
However, as the holiday has become more about the dollar amount, we often can’t resist the rush of ads and sales, becoming swept up in consumerism. We get busier and busier, and Christmas detaches further from its purpose in favor of cash.
Being “snowed in” brings a halt to all of this.
With no more money to be spent, places to go, or décor to perfect, the Christmas season is stripped down to its roots: gathering together with loved ones, sharing in good company, and the joy of Christ’s birth. I think if we were to be locked in our homes for the season, it would serve as a “chilling” wake-up call as to where our priorities truly lie. So, let’s look at three ways we can reorient ourselves this Christmas: gratitude, reflection, and rest.
Consider for a moment: How wonderful is it that so many of us can celebrate Christmas with food, gifts, and loved ones? That we’re given the privilege to pursue our education and finish another semester? That Christ was born to die for our sins? This is the heart of gratitude. When the noise of consumerism and busyness is cut from our lives, we’re given the opportunity to be thankful for both the mundane and the fantastic in our lives. We have a heavenly provision! We’re saved by grace! Who really cares if we don’t find the perfect present?
Reflection, then, gives us the opportunity to look back on the year with fresh eyes. What did we accomplish? What were we proud of? What could we have improved on? How have we grown? Each new year is a chance to improve ourselves, reset our priorities, and establish new resolutions (even if we’ll ditch them by January 2nd). Plowing through November-January without taking time to evaluate ourselves does February us a disservice!
Finally, there’s rest. Contrary to popular belief, busyness is not the same as giving of yourself. It’s easy to think that the more we do for another person, the more we must love them, or if our days aren’t packed full, we’re not trying hard enough. But the truth is that giving is about intentionality, it’s not measured in hours or dollars spent. And you can’t be intentional without first taking time to rest.
Rest may look like spending time with close family and friends or recharging your social battery in your own company. However you choose to rest, it should result in a newfound stillness, allowing you to reflect on and feel gratitude for the blessings in your life. Only then can we be intentional with those closest to us, give to them graciously, and rediscover the true meaning of Christmas.
(Hint: Jesus is the reason for the season. It’s true.)
So, this holiday, I encourage you to consider this: maybe being “snowed in” isn’t about what’s happening outside, but what could happen inside, instead. And if you’re looking for a chance to join in rest and reflection with the rest of the student body, don’t forget to grab a ticket and join us inside the Vines Center on Saturday night at 11:30 p.m. for Christmas Coffeehouse: Snowed In!
Written by Emma Lane
Emma is a Senior studying Strategic Communications with a minor in Business. While she loves all things photography, fashion, and indie music, creative writing has always been one of her favorite ways to express herself.