November 28, 2016
Well here we are….the Monday after Thanksgiving (for some of you Cyber Monday) and for me the day I wake up to the countdown and calendars and comparing. I have worked on this for years in my household, in therapy, in my journals, with friends, and it has vastly improved and yet still lingers. I wandered into the Great Hall at my new church yesterday morning to make an Advent wreath with my new community of church friends, excited, and remembering that I don’t always like putting things together with my own hands, especially pointy evergreens and holly leaves. There are many aspects of the Christmas season that sweep me into overwhelm, but the simplicity of a circle of greens with four candles to be honored and lit for the next four weeks is not one of them. It’s where I need to begin before the world of Black Friday and Cyber Monday or baking cookies or thinking about ornaments or lights or lists to check twice.
Let’s be real here. As a child, Easter and its story scared the bejesus out of me and Christmas, despite the secular world and all its messages always held wonder and awe. I loved the story of the Wise Men following the star. Waiting for a baby to be born. Shepherds and God’s creation of landscape and creatures. Humans and angels. On a cold winter’s night. And for my grandmother, Ethel, and her sister, Eleanor, to arrive at our house, unload the car, and get ready for midnight mass. And now as an adult and as I walk out into the world as a middle aged woman with the playfulness of a child and the baggage of life on life’s terms and the 24 hour news cycle I too am among the shepherds and angels, wise men (or not so wise men some days) the creatures and trusting the path. That the answers are in the stillness and twinkles of the stars and a baby coming into the world. New life. Abundance even when it looks stark or dim. And I need the simplicity of a ring of evergreens and holly to smell good on my table and remind me that I am a beautiful child of God, Good Orderly Direction, the Great OutDoors, and this universe in which I reside. And how very loved I am.
I have said to my people over the years that Norman Rockwell put some serious expectations on what I thought the holidays should be or look like. It took years of patience for mentors and friends to help me ditch those images, every year we MUST mentality. And my motto has evolved into “every year is different.” I send cards, I don’t send cards. We stay home, we travel. I bake (I always bake…) and I also cherish the first batch of green spritz Christmas tree cookies that my mom makes for ME. (My niece and I disagree on this point, but I remind her to respect her elders and I have more insurance.). This morning as I wrote my daily letter to God I also was aware of not only my man Norman, but his counterpart Martha, as in Stewart and that I need not sign up for her Christmas marathon. And more power to you Martha, but I am still like a preschooler making my Advent wreath and sprinkling glitter on my cookies.
I could write a book on this topic and it is only the beginning, but like my girl Oprah reminds me there ARE a few things I know for sure. I love the lights and the music, (oh the carols) the German angel tower my husband gave me a few years ago, a little Mary Engelbreit box from my friend DeeAnn, the pink jingle bell wreath from my sister in law, my grandmother’s costume jewelry Christmas tree pin and the nativity that sat on her piano each year., and a vintage copy of Henry VanDyke’s “Keeping Christmas” from a dear friend. There are ornaments that remind me of trips or people or times in my life like a charm bracelet. And I surround myself with these and the rest is all a bonus really. If I walk through these next weeks with an agenda and list and standard that does not allow for the going inward that also is happening in nature, in the calendar, and therefore in me….I miss out on the wonder and awe. And bigger and better plan than the one I dig my heels into when adventure and stillness await. So many packages I don’t anticipate or expect that are not wrapped in pretty paper and a bow. “May your heart be light”.