So much to look forward to in December! Beautiful music, celebrating our salvation that came through sacrifice from beginning to end, remembering the gift of our faith, sharing tokens of love and care with friends and family, participating in the glorious festivities of old and new traditions, gathering with those we may not see often. Oh the colors, the smells, the touch! And caroling! If we're fortunate, we may be kissed or drowned in snow. And yes I said FORTUNATE!!!! :) Each blessing is particularly keen, stopping, remembering, and caressing it with a thankful thought.
It is also the time of stress, overload, chasing the holy grail of balance until we are crazy, plummeting checking account numbers, obligations, unfulfilled expectations, crisis triage, cynicism, grinches, no good answers or solutions, the sting of lost fellow celebrators whether by death or circumstance or decision. Our raw, weak, human hearts scream in anguish for deliverance. Deliverance! In truth, this is the season of celebrating our greatest deliverance!
Thankfully, I think for most of us December doesn't fall into one category or the other, but rather a combination of the two.
My memories of Christmas include blessing and frustration. My family didn't have a whole lot in the way of Christmas traditions when we were young because this was something my parents disagreed on. Christmas was different every year depending on what could be gotten together. Mom has always been a really good gift giver. We usually spent the day just as a family. The food is my department though everyone is assigned a dish that they get to make. The candle table is one of my favorite memories that I've been considering reviving. I've taken to doing decorations almost soley from the out of doors. This has perks (no storage, no expense, spent $3 so far this year, though we will need a few more stings of lights) and cons (dry needles EVERYwhere), but I enjoy the process so we just get out the broom.
Mom gets embarrassed when we have Christmas decorations up past the end of December, but I don't just gather outdoor decorations for Christmas! I do that for most of the seasons. So that means that winter decorations look a lot like Christmas, minus some ribbons and glitter.
This year is slightly different as I am living at camp at the moment. Not sure how and what that will/should change. I've been re-evalution my general Christmas approach ... It has long been my desire to do exclusively handmade gifts, or at least majoring in handmade. This year, I'm feeling broke, so that has been even more attractive. I spent a chunk of money while I was in St. Louis on supplies for potential gifts. We'll see how all that goes. I've also been considering Advent.
I've always loved the thought of a Jesse Tree, especially if the young'uns are involved. And wouldn't you know it, as this has been rattling around in my head over the last few days, today my Facebook feed is filled with Advent articles, explanations, ideas, etc.
Link to Advent readings
Mark Robert's Advent Discovery Journey - especially the section entitled "My Greatest Advent Discovery"
Desiring God - Advent is Slow on Purpose
Advent // Hope - Lang Films
This is thought provoking stuff and has followed on the heels of some new revelations on the history of Halloween.
Debunking Halloween Myths
Halloween - James Jordan Essay
Oh, and if you haven't read this on Facebook, please do. If you read nothing else, read this.
Why Thanksgiving is Subversive - A Holy Experience
Plus I absolutely love how they celebrated thanksgiving this year.
Sorry for being all analytical and theoretical today, guys. I'm not feeling so well and my brain is the only thing still motivated to be semi-industrious. :) Don't worry! There will be photos of Christmasy things to come!
Song for the day:
Andrew Peterson - My Love Has Gone Across the Sea