When’s the last time you threw candy? None of that digital Candy Crush ridiculousness, either. I mean a genuine toss of candy. The good stuff, too! Can you imagine throwing a handful of Swedish Fish or Toblerone’s out at people not expecting it? Or a parade that only allowed participants to give out full-size candy bars. How amazing would that be?
Earlier this year, I heard writer Shauna Niequist speak at the Storyline Conference in Chicago. Shauna is a delightful writer and storyteller, with a passion for the experiences we have around the dinner table. One of my all-time favorite stories that she shares is from her time at Bob Goff’s lodge. A tradition of the Goff family occurs when they see kayakers, boaters, or swimmers coming near the house. They rush inside where a stash of candy is waiting on them. They fill their hands and grab as much as they can, rushing outside to greet the visitors. And then, they throw candy! It sounds like an ideal greeting. Some may even hope that this is how we’re greeted at the gates of heaven (raises hand).But as time progressed, Shauna noticed that she started scheduling candy throwing for a reasonable time. Things get busy, you know? So instead of the adrenaline rushes, she chose practical moments where it made a lot more sense to throw candy. And then, eventually, she just stopped throwing candy. Shortly after that, she started making fun of people who threw candy. It’s an honest rhythm that we’ve all experienced.
It’s the week of Christmas and that can mean all sorts of things, given the person and their history. For some, it’s a bittersweet moment to go home and be around loved ones. It symbolizes tradition and love and warm, fuzzy feelings alongside hot chocolate and a fire. And for others, it’s a time of remembrance or even mourning. It reminds us of brokenness or fear, and anxiety creeps in much like Santa would crawl down the chimney; fast and with such a clatter. I’ve heard many friends talk about emotional triggers, things that click on or off in a moments notice. It could be that one spot that you pass on your way home every single time, or a person in your family that makes your blood boil year after year. Maybe it’s the same argument that stirs up every time you get together for family dinner, or old wounds reopened every time you pass your old school building.
Regardless of what the holidays bring you, there’s always room for hope, joy, and peace. This is my first time really diving into the advent season with reading materials attached, and I’ve developed a new tradition that I can’t wait to carry on into a family legacy. I’ve been carrying around a small notebook in my pocket, taking notes from daily readings and observing how it all connects to my day. And when I actually stop to think about it, I see so many opportunities to place hope, joy, and peace into the day. If you’re reading this post on your mobile device, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re a busy person, with a list of to-dos and an overflowing inbox looming on the backend of the holiday break.
We all long for vibrant relationships, a creative community, and a connected life, but moreso find ourselves burnt out and empty by the time we can actually get to it.
In the liking of wisdom from Shauna, go out and throw more candy this Christmas season. Because someone out there needs candy, and often times in those situations, we ourselves needed the opportunity to toss it. And whether you take that challenge literally or metaphorically, just be sure to do it. Do your thing, whatever that is, with great love. And do it right now, because there is no sense in waiting. Don’t get wrapped up in labels or expectations. Instead, choose hope, joy, and peace. You deserve it.