Since it’s December 23rd, and I do live in northern Ontario, this shouldn’t be huge news, but for some reason it is this year. Yesterday it rained, and everything was green and brown and grey and dreary, not at all “Christmas-y”. I actually got tears in my eyes when I heard Bing Crosby on the radio singing “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This morning though, when we woke up, a beautiful layer of white snow sparkled on the ground and the trees. It’s incredible how much the weather can affect, rightly or wrongly, your mood and your spirit. And while I know the weather has absolutely nothing to do with the real meaning and significance of the season, and that the lack of snow is likely much more authentically like that first Christmas, the beauty and freshness of this morning is helping me to focus and draw my thoughts to where I would like them to be at this holy time.
I learned some lessons last year on the importance of keeping things simple at this time of year. In light of that, I am putting up my Christmas post from last year, and from my former blog, to remind myself of what is really important at a time of year that can get extremely hectic and stressful. The following is from that post, nominated in June 2011 for a national writing award with The Word Guild:
So I’m having a really hard time getting into the swing of the season. Somehow I think I may have missed the Christmas frenzy train that pulled out of the station some time during the last couple of months. In any case, I can’t seem to work up a good, motivating stress regarding everything that needs to be done in the next two weeks.I haven’t really done much shopping, mostly because we’re jumping all over the keeping it simple theme that seems to be prevailing this year. I’m not as clear why the decorating isn’t being done. All we typically do for outdoor lighting is hang a giant wreath on the front of the house and plug it in. Two weeks ago, though, when I went to do this, the string of mini lights at the top of the wreath worked, while the string at the bottom didn’t. I briefly contemplated the idea of trying to pass off a giant horseshoe hanging on the house as nouveau Christmas décor, then gave up and took the wreath back down. It is still sitting in the laundry room waiting for someone to go over the lights one by one to determine which is the culprit. For some inexplicable reason neither my husband nor I have leapt at the chance to be the one to do the job. I imagine we’ll get around to it some time in February. In the meantime, the house sits in grinch-like darkness while the rest of the neighbourhood glows around it. Kind of a Griswald Christmas vacation in reverse, if you will.We did get the tree up. A week ago. And it’s still standing, as naked and forlorn as the day it was chopped down in the forest. (Okay, who am I kidding, the day it was brought home in a box from Canadian Tire eleven years ago). Again, not exactly sure why the boxes of decorations one room over haven’t made their way into the family room so we can infuse the poor thing with some Christmas cheer, but there they sit, right next door. And there the tree stands, holding out its poor, somewhat bedraggled after all these years of stuffing it back into the box after the holidays, branches as if in supplication. Charlie Brown would not be impressed.
Baking? Not so much. The couple of pans of squares I managed to make have mysteriously disappeared already. Actually, not mysteriously so much as secretly, as I have to admit I did sneak downstairs in the middle of a more than one late-night writing session searching for something with which to “boost my creative energy.” (Hello, 65,000 words in November – did you really think that was done without the benefit of countless cups of coffee and excessive amounts of sugar?) Oh. I may have just solved the whole apathy towards the relentless passing of time between now and Christmas thing. There’s a slight chance, now that I think about it, that it could have less to do with the inner peace I had fooled myself into thinking I had achieved, and more to do with the withdrawal. Hmmm. Anyway, no more baking.So we are, intentionally or unintentionally, embracing the concept of simplicity this Christmas season (I’m going with intentionally). And we haven’t failed to mark the season completely. We have attended a Walk through Bethlehem at a local church and been moved, twice, by the Christmas production my kids were involved in. We’re reading Christmas stories in front of the fire and learning more about Advent, a tradition I did not grow up with in my church and am loving. So maybe the important things are being done after all.
I may have a difficult time convincing my extended family of this when all twenty of them arrive on Christmas day to a home cloaked in darkness, a bag of store-bought cookies for dessert, and a naked tree in the front room, but oh well. As Linus would say, it’s all about the baby in the manger anyway. And as I sit here I can see my kids cutting out decorations from bits of coloured paper, and hear them singing angel and shepherd songs from their play last weekend, and I realize suddenly that not one of them has even mentioned making a Christmas list of all the stuff they want.
Maybe Charlie Brown would be a little bit impressed after all.
Press on, my friends. Press on. And God bless you and your family as you celebrate the birth of His Son together this Christmas.