A few favorite instgram photos from Christmas. An unexpected White Christmas and sleepy girls on the drive up. Some how all seem to fit with this theme of silence, and waiting, and listening.
Normally I am ready for the last week of the year to be over. Ready to move on with routine and schedule and life. But something in my heart aches to cling to this in between time. This time of low expectations. The thought of moving forward hurts just a touch to much.
My aunt passed away today. She was my mother's sister and, because of a large age gap between her and my mother, was more like a grandmother to me. The past few months have been about reconnecting for me. Reconnecting with my past, with my families stories, with the women in my family. I have had the beautiful opportunity of "meeting" a cousin on my mother's side through facebook this winter. I was doing research for a story for The Clutch Guide. It has been an unexpected and wonderful experience.
Over Christmas I was sharing a story with my brother and his wife of a Christmas our family spent at the beach. Neither had any recollection of the moment. Laughingly my sister in law said she was glad some one remembered her life. That it was a comfort to know that though she forget things, friends and family remembered moments for her.
I have wondered lately why I write. Why I blog to be more precise. So often it feels like no one is listening/reading. The past few days I have come to realize, that it doesn't matter at all if any one reads this at all. I am a story teller, a memory keeper. It is in my blood to notice the beautiful and to hold on to it for a rainy day. And, in the processes, I have found a new found connection and relation to aunts, cousins, old neighbors, old classmates. It's important to tell our stories. They make us who we are. They bind us together. They keep us alive.
It's gotten pretty cold this week. Combinations of ice and rain and snow. The girls and I are staying warm with sweatshirts and fuzzy socks and wishing we had stocked up on fire wood earlier. Poor Hubby is working all week trying to catch up his numbers the last week of the year. Sick with a horrible cold and standing out side all day. He is my hero.
It is always a funny time to me. This week between Christmas and New Years. It always feels so.... silent.... like C.S. Lewis' wood between the worlds in Magicians Nephew. My goal was to use this time to clean and organize and prepare for the coming year. However, with all four of us being sick with a nasty bug it has become more of a time to flop on the sofa under lots of covers and watch a crazy amount of Law and Order.
The kids are:
Enjoying Christmas gifts.
Pushing boundaries after all Holiday hubbub.
Sick as dogs.
Going to bed late.
Napping where ever they fall.
Next week we will get back into a rhythm. But this week is more about keeping the peace. Keeping the quiet. Keeping the calm.
What are you all up to these last few days of 2012?
These are the words that have been rolling around. Stuck somewhere in my brain just brewing. I have a feeling they will be important in the year to come, though I am not entirely sure what exactly they will mean or look like. So for now I am simply living with them. In this in between time between the old and the new. Between last year and next. Between the path we are on and the one we will take. Be Silent. Be Still. Listen.
I’m not entirely sure why, but it is has been far too easy this advent season to focus on the haven’ts. The things I haven’t done. The movies we haven’t watched. The projects I haven’t finished. The cookies I haven’t baked. The memories we haven’t made. The gifts we haven’t shipped. So much so, that the haven’t seem to have taken over the past week or so for me leaving me feeling drained, weary, and defeated.
Last night due to poor planning on my part I spent 2 hours at our church building with nothing to do. No book to read, no project to work on, no laptop/tablet to fiddle with. Just me, a comfy chair, and a cell phone with an almost dead battery. I was kicking myself for letting this happen and thinking of all the “haven’ts” I could have turned into “haves”.
I was driving myself nuts so I decided to use the last bit of my cell battery to catch up on some blogs. I follow some awesome blogs, but for whatever reason last night it just wasn’t doing it for me. Looking at every one's beautiful Christmas projects and cute elf on the shelf postings was just making me feel more like a failure.
And then I stumbled upon a favorite blog of mine. One I had forgotten about, but that had pulled me into the world of blogging in the first place. If you have checked out HABIT you need to. It never fails to sooth my spirit and put me into a better frame of mind. It’s the kind of place I want my blog to be to others.
Sitting there in the church lobby listening to the choir practice Silent Night I was overwhelmed with God’s grace and peace. It’s not about the doing and the going and the busy. It’s about the little moments. Like carrying my sleeping three year old in from the car and being washed in the scent of my mother-in-laws fabric softener. She watched the girls so we could finish Christmas shopping. The coats were dirty. She washed them. And in that very simple way reminded me of the beauty of practical love. Not big screen, holiday movie love. But a love that came down from the glory of Haven to sleep in a dirty manger because we so desperately needed him. Practical love. Wow.
This morning as I looked around I was reminded of all we HAVE done. SO I thought I would share a few pictures of our Advent season.
Making Christmas Cards for family and friends.
Duckies for the bathtub.
A ride around daddy's work in the golf cart.
I guess we are doing pretty good at the memory making after all.
Moments after I published this post my mother shared the following quote from a favorite play. It was too beautiful not to share.
EMILY: "Does anyone ever realize life while they live it...every, every minute?"
STAGE MANAGER: "No. Saints and poets maybe...they do some.”
― Thornton Wilder, Our Town
Here is to letting go of the "haven'ts" in hopes of realizing at least a few of life's moments today.
To some it might be the most wonderful time of the year. To many it often feels like the busiest time of year. To many people doing "Advent" is just piling more onto the never-ending seasonal to do list. So, why do Advent?
For starters we celebrate Advent in two ways. An Advent Calendar (which I will discuss today and probably a few more times this season) and an Advent wreath which I hope to write about tomorrow.
Growing up my parents started doing the advent calendar as a way to organize and schedule all the various Christmas activities that came with being a senior pastor. As my dad's church grew and his job changed it wasn't needed for that as much. By the time my younger brother and I came around the Advent Calendar was about celebrating the small ordinary moments of life and making them "special". My parents never went looking for an activity to do to fill a square. Rather they made a big deal out of things we would have done any ways like wrapping Christmas gifts. They used the calendar as a tool to purposely celebrate the normal things in life and elevate them to "moments."
Advent Calendar: What it is not.
For us the Advent calendar is not about giving gifts to our kids every single day.
It's not about spending a lot of money.
It's not about adding to a never-ending to do list or creating seasonal mommy guilt.
It's not about coming with activities just to fill up a square.
What our Advent Calendar IS:
We celebrate Birthday Months in our house and the advent calendar is a way to celebrate Jesus' Birthday Month.
It is a way for us to celebrate the little things.
It is being intentional in our activities and actions for a month.
It's about spending time together.
It's about embracing the inherent magic of the season.
It's about a few extra surprises that don't cost much but bring big smiles to our kids faces (more ideas for that later).
Most years we forget a day or two, but that's ok. It's about doing what you can and what works for your family.
Advent Day One: A special toy hidden on the Christmas tree. (I found a package of two large zipper pulls at Wal-Mart for $1.00 super cheap advent "gift" that had my kids so excited. Their favorite part was hunting on the tree).
Advent Day Two: Put on new Santa hats ($0.99 each at Wal-Mart) and go walk in the Lynchburg Christmas Parade!
Extra treat, stop for ice cream after.
I love Advent Calendar so much and would love to help one of your out. So leave a comment about some of the activities you would like to put in your own advent calendar and I will send a few goodies to fill in the days when you don't have the time or energy for an activity. Comments will close Tuesday night. I'll use a random number generator on Wednesday the 5th to pick the winner.