Whenever I hear the phrase, “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men,” I’m instantly filled with longing. My heart craves peace, a bit of quiet, some rest in the midst of the hustle and bustle.

My life already seems to move at light speed. How then, can it possibly speed up further during the holidays? But it does. I find myself awake at night, the undone tasks on my to-do list jumping up and down like deranged Christmas elves.

I don’t think this is how this season was meant to be lived.

And yet, 2,000 years ago, chaos reigned in tiny Bethlehem, too. King Herod had declared a census be taken, forcing folks to scurry hither and yon to get to their hometowns. Bethlehem was bursting at the seams with crowds, noise, rushing families, crying children, frustration.

I’m sure Mary and Joseph longed for a bit of peace, too. Not just from the hustle and bustle around them, but deep inside, where they fretted over what was going to happen to them. They were poor, strangers, far from home, seeking shelter in an overcrowded town.

They found a safe haven where they least expected it: in a small stable, of all places. Not what either had envisioned for the birth of their child, I’m sure.

But their story reminds me that Christmas isn’t about the shiny and expected. It has nothing to do with outward trappings, perfect decorations, lavish gifts, or gourmet meals.

Christmas is about love, sent from heaven, wrapped in newborn skin.

Perhaps its time to take a deep breath and burrow down past all the noise and chaos and the “shoulds.” Light a candle, sit quietly. Hug a child, visit a lonely neighbor, read the Christmas story by the fire. Let go of the unnecessary extras and remember what really matters this Christmas season.

Love. Family. Giving to others.

The Peace of Christmas isn’t gone. It waits in the quiet. Rather than demand entrance, it lingers, hoping for an invitation. If you make time to listen closely, you’ll hear it echo across the centuries…

“Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men.”

Peace on Earth blog by Connie Mann