Christmas with Ann Voskamp: When You're Just Ready for the Rest of Christmas

To get our hearts ready for Christ’s birth, Ann Voskamp is writing for us, celebrating the holiday that’s all about Jesus. Join us as we anticipate the coming of our savior. 

Whenever Christmas begins to burden,

it’s a sign that I’ve taken on something of the world and not of Christ.

The Farmer, he brings home these four miniature candles with the groceries and he pecks me on the cheek. Crazy, how wonders never cease!

So I set out just these four candles—one by the sink, one atop the cabinet, one by the hearth, the last at the window.

And from the sink, I can see each of the four flames bold, oil lamps keeping watch.

Four flickering wicks—they’re like these lamps keeping vigil for the Babe coming under a star.

I stand there with a grocery bag and one question: Why do I usually let the oil go out?

Why fume about the kid’s Latin CDs left naked and ashamed in the study, throw up my hands when the boys rub each other wrong, and I’m no Aaron or Hur, and it’s my heart that grows heavy, and I fall all the time and it needs to be falling in prayer,and why can’t I keep watch even one hour? Why rate Christmas on cookies and worth on works and presents on perfection?

Who keeps the vigil this Advent and why am I not the virgin with the lamp, just vigilant just for Christ?

It comes, like a lighting:

Christmas cannot be bought. Christmas cannot be created.
Christmas cannot be made by hand. Christmas can only be found—

In the creche, in the cradling trough, in the mire and the stench and the unexpected and unlikely and only in the person of Christ.

And I breathe.


Living slow is the way to carry an extra flask of oil joy and living life slow is a way to see.

And the slower I take the last days of Advent, the more places I find Christ and Christmas and the Light that warms.

The shadows lengthen.

The kids whine.

The soup burns.

The packaging and the twine and the paper and the cookies and the cards explode across the house.

And four brazen flames burn, ready … waiting … watching.

And it’s like a kindling—

What if I laid down efforts and expectations, perfectionism and performance … and simply waited with arms and heart and eyes wide open?

Christ the Babe comes in Christmas just as Christ the Savior comes on the Cross—seeking only our embrace.

And the only thing really to wrap? Is the heart around around Him.

The Farmer, he heads out for evening barn chores. A

nd I stand in the mess and watch from the window. He turns and winks.

And I smile and wave, a burning heart in the midst—

and wait for his coming again, the paned glass reflecting wicks keeping bright vigil, extra oil of joy still left out for the love that comes down.

Love that comes down and simple says come rest.

Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, the home-educating mama to a half-dozen exuberant kids, and author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, a New York Times bestseller, and new this month, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas. Named by Christianity Today as one of 50 women most shaping culture and the church today, she’s a writer for DaySpring, a speaker with Women of Faith, and a global advocate for needy children with Compassion International. Ann loses library books, usually has a sink full of soaking pots, and sees empty laundry baskets rarer than a blue moon.

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