Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Perfect Christmas

We all have a picture in our minds of what the perfect Christmas would be like, don't we? Mine involves lots of family, plenty of food, everyone pitching in to clean up, having energy to play with each grandchild and spending extra time with each older family member, all the while praising God and exuding joy and beneficence over all with whom I come in contact. I don't know where I got this ideal from, but it certainly hasn't been my experience (especially the last part, I'm sorry to say.) I was reminded of my expectations this morning when I woke up at 4:30 with a stuffy head and sore throat. Not today, not when Joel and his family are coming from Georgia tonight! As the day has progressed, other needs, burdens, and little glitches have presented themselves. It's tempting to get frustrated by all this real life that is interfering with my ideal.

Right now, I'm catching my breath and pondering that first Christmas.... one unexpected thing after another, and none of them easy! Mary and Joseph had to leave home when it was least convenient in order to answer a government summons, no comfortable accommodations were available for her as she went into labor, no one pampered her through childbirth and postpartum, and they didn't even get to go home right away! Someone was out to find and kill the child, so she and Joseph had to flee with their child to a foreign place.

In spite of how this all looked, though, everything was under the eye and hand of a loving heavenly Father. In so far as it happened according to His will, it was a perfect Christmas! The promise of the Messiah was fulfilled, and real people enduring real hardship were very much a part of those promises coming to pass. As life moved on for Mary, she would endure much more suffering and heartache, but she always knew that she had committed herself to God's care that day the angel first appeared and she said, "Be it done to me according to your word." As hard as things got, the glorious day of the resurrection made everything clear. He did everything He had promised.

As I try to finish up the prep for the week-end and pray for friends and family who are having a difficult time, I'm thankful for the reality of the gospel. My idea of "perfect" is so shallow and selfish; God's kind of perfect is life-giving! These momentary sufferings and hardships are under the care of One who came to live a most inconvenient human life, to die so we could live! I pray that your Christmas will be perfect this year -- that you will truly know "Emmanuel", God with us, and that you will know joy and peace in believing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hello, old friend

It's been about four years since I've had my sewing machine out. Something about this season, though, always makes me itsy to create a little something that won't be consumed by January 2nd. This year I decided to pull down some fabric from the attic and make some quick aprons. It's not a lot, but it satisfies my need for color and tactile activity. Of course, that means other things aren't being done right now, but I'll catch up later. And my sweet hubby is fixing dinner tonight so I can have this brief time of R & R.

Friday, December 3, 2010


December is here and I think I'm the only one without any Christmas decorations up yet! Not to worry, though; we're right on track with the traditional Trumbo approach to the holidays. Tomorrow is the day to put up the Christmas wreath and the window candles. Saturday I'll wash the holiday mugs for display and use. Next week I'll put the garland up in the dining room and hang some mistletoe. Then the baking begins! We will get our tree on December 18th. Why so late? Because we always wait until school is out so we can actually enjoy the process of putting it up and decorating. (And Rick likes to look for "specials" as the countdown of days gets closer to the 25th.) The girls will hang the ornaments after Rick tussles with the lights. Then, we'll settle back and enjoy the lovely soft lights and the amazing aroma of fresh pine. That, more than anything else, puts me in the Christmas mood.

I think my family's favorite tradition has to do with food, though. Like everyone else, I do a lot of holiday baking - special cookies and treats that I only make once a year. I begin early and freeze as much as I can for Christmas day. On that day, I put out a dessert buffet of all the goodies, and everyone is allowed to eat from it at any time of the day. I don't monitor my husband's fat intake or my children's sugar intake that day - it's one of my gifts to them. ☺ We enjoy a bountiful breakfast that morning, then keep a pot of Christmas stew on the stove and fresh bread on the counter for whenever anyone gets hungry. After breakfast, there's the general mayhem of presents and play, and with five children, eight grandchildren, and my mom all pitching in, that's a lot of activity!

The predictability of these things is one of the special aspects of the Christmas season. It's the anticipation of the special foods, the favorite ornaments, the same routine that generates an eager, joyful feeling about the holidays. The shared memories of family traditions is a gift that I enjoy year after year.