Vacation is over, warm weather is definitely over, and winter is here, along with one of my favorite times of year, Advent. And doesn't the season seem to be going quickly!? Anyone else? Perhaps because we had a late Thanksgiving. Perhaps because life is so full, mostly of the mundane, but this time of year, it's also full of extra activities and places to go and things to do.
For me, the Christmas season truly begins with a few moments... putting up the Christmas tree, setting up the nativity, and yes, some cheery Christmas shopping.
This year we decided to cut a tree down from our property. The weather was quite balmy, so we grabbed the kids and headed out back.
Josh had his eye on a few trees. Now, you may not know this, but when you chop down your own tree, it's probably not a seven foot fur tree. It's probably more like 30 feet tall. You chop it down and lob off the top as your Christmas tree. And the tops of those trees can look excellent from 30 feet below. But usually by the time you've felled the tree and cut off the top, you have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.
And that's what we got. It's tall and skinny and could use a few prosthetic limbs... but once it was decorated, it was really beautiful. And we love it because it came from our own backyard.
We've been using colored lights for the past few years. We really only needed one strand because the tree was so skinny, but we put on two anyway.
|"Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot" Isaiah 11:1|
I took a picture of the stump because it reminded me of the verse we read for the first day of Advent this year. I didn't make the connection until the tree fell. Then I got the kids to go with me to look at it... and even then the idea of a stump producing a shoot took on new meaning.
For Advent this year, we are doing the Jesse Tree, particularly using Ann Voskamp's book The Greatest Gift. I abandoned my usual One Year Bible reading to meditate and reflect on the daily scriptures in this book, and to journal through the questions. It's been such a blessing. I then read the scripture to the kids and we have had some great discussions. Someone gets to put the ornament on our Jesse Tree, which has become something they all look forward to. I've missed a few days with the kids, but I personally look forward to my time in the morning, preparing for, waiting for Christmas.
I tend to gauge the Christmas season by what I DIDN'T do. There's often quite a list of things I didn't do that I wanted to. For several years I've wanted to take the kids to a live nativity or Bethlehem Marketplace, something several churches in our surrounding areas do. We haven't made it yet. I want to watch my favorite movies at least once, some twice. This year, I've "watched" White Christmas while scurrying around my kitchen. I haven't listened to Christmas music as much as I'd like, or decorated the fence with pine boughs, or hung the lighted wreaths in the windows. We haven't even put the star on top of the tree. I look at the pile of gifts in my closet and think "It's not enough, I didn't get enough". I didn't get the BeyBlades. I didn't get the stuffed Creeper. I didn't get the guitar. I didn't get practically anything they asked for.
Or so it seems.
Is it possible to have done more...though it looks like a lot less?
Is it possible to have gotten what they really, truly want... even though it wasn't on their list?
Is it possible to have a truly wonderful Advent and Christmas even when the upstairs is a mess due to an insulation project? And when the laundry never really seems to be done? And when we really scaled back gift giving?
I think the answer to all these questions is... yes, it's possible. And highly likely.
So I'll forget everything I haven't done and enjoy what we have. Our Advent readings often include craziness, fussing, and fighting over spots in front of the woodstove, but they also include amazing discussions and insight from my children. We read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in one sitting, because they simply wouldn't let me stop reading. We've had lots of cocoa with whipped cream and giant bowls of popcorn. We've watched the second in The Santa Clause movie series because, even though I wanted to watch them in order, the second is everyone's favorite. The kids have done their shopping for Daddy. I've had two peppermint mochas. My bulletin board is filling up with Christmas cards. We went to see Frozen. The windows are plated in snow.
And we're all dreaming of a white Christmas, and looks like we may have one.