Oh, so much to share. So many titles I could have chosen! But this is a line from one of my favorite Christmas (Advent?) carols:
People Look East
People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.
Christmas really is the crowning of the year! There are a thousand things I love about the late days of December - the hectic preparations that overcome you no matter how organized you thought you were; the beauty of Christmas night, heading out to church in the snow (if you're so lucky); the exhale of sitting down to dinner on Christmas Day knowing that everything is done at last; the lazy, sleepy day after.
This year, I meditated quite a bit on another line from the song above: Make your house as fair as you are able. Not as fair as the neighbors', or as fair as your mom's, or as fair as that magazine cover or that other blogger's photos! Able means: within your means, your capacity, your ability. People like me need to be reminded that sometimes it's fair enough. I am genetically programmed to over-do until I drop. Intellectually, I know this. With some effort, I can intentionally put the brakes on my need to execute every grand plan that my head can come up with. That's what I tried to do this year, and it helped me move beyond survival to actual enjoyment of both Advent and Christmas. Tasks were fit in around the needs of lots of little people, my own limitations, and finances. Some things got trimmed, others adapted.
One thing that has helped me is to remember this is not the only Christmas we will ever celebrate. Some ideas can be used next year! Maybe some traditions could alternate years, like the snow globes that are still packed away upstairs because I never got them out, and the kids haven't remembered (yet).
On the bright side, every single thing I ordered from Amazon on December 18th arrived by Christmas Eve. This is when technology is my friend! The kids were clean and dressed. Most decorations got put up. The cookies and treats I envisioned got made. Mostly.
The speed bumps? The tree never did want to stand up in its place in the exact center of the window. So we propped it up against the counter and decorated as usual. Looks gorgeous. Not perfect. The kids love it. We didn't get to a few of the recipes on that list in my head. No one noticed. This is the dessert table from Christmas dinner at my mom's:
See what I mean? Genetically programmed! (Isn't it beautiful?)
What emerged as important was the time we spent in worship and thanksgiving, the time spent together as a family sharing the blessing of the children's joy, and the time celebrating with loved ones seen too seldom, sharing their joy. It was a wonderful, peaceful Christmas Day. (Mom's table, again).
We went to Christmas Eve Mass earlier than usual, a snow storm on the way. Once home, after the now-traditional stop at Walgreens for something we forgot, we made Tourtiere, the traditional French Canadian meat pie that Jeff and I both grew up with. I still had plenty of wrapping and baking to do that night. Even though they could not get to sleep before 11 pm or even later, the kids got up at 5:30 am. Jeff and I were still up! We rolled with it and had Christmas morning, since we knew no one was going back to sleep. Then we left them playing with their new toys and caught a few hours' sleep ourselves (with Molly) before cooking some more and heading out to be with family.
It was such a treat to have a Sunday right after Christmas this year. It was the most blissful day of rest all year! Being together seemed like a fitting way to celebrate the feast of The Holy Family.
Our celebrating is a long way from over. My sister's birthday celebration is tomorrow. Then, family and friends are expected over here on New Year's Eve. We will probably be with family again sometime that weekend. Epiphany is also early again this year, the day after New Year's, and we celebrate that day as well. Honestly, I'm still in rest and recovery mode, while halfheartedly reassembling the house to be ready for New Year's Eve. I'm not sure how we will celebrate Epiphany yet!
To take the last line from the song, it is all for Love: Love, the guest, is on the way. It's about Him, it's for Him. He is the reason for this joy, this labor, this togetherness! We are so thankful that He has come and has given us hope and a reason to celebrate. Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!
Blessings of this beautiful season to each of you reading... May Love fill your homes and hearts, too.