Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas... gone?

I feel a bit torn this time of year.  I have so completely and thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas season that I can hardly believe it's coming to an end.  So much so that I might be fighting it just a little bit.

I understand the reclaiming of the living room, the getting back to usual and comfortable routines.  The getting back to "normal".  This year though, I'm not so sure I want "normal" back yet.

Did you know that the United States is about one of the only places that ties the Christmas season with the shopping season?  It's true.  In countries throughout the world the 12 Days of Christmas actually start on Christmas Day.  The celebration lasts till January 5th or 6th depending on when you choose to end it.  You can check out your friendly Wikipedia page under "12 Days of Christmas" for all the details.  It's a bit baffling but I find that I really like the principle.  It may be because I didn't get all the people visited that I wanted to.  Or the fact that my Christmas card ambition that started in October didn't come full circle and actually get delivered.  But mostly it's because I'm just not ready for all of the Christmas songs to go away.  I'm not ready for the lights to come down and be plunged unceremoniously into the January blahs.  I want to keep the lights that break up these dark days.  I want to continue to feel that "Christmas Spirit" that goes away all too quickly.

So yeah.  I'm the crazy person that will keep the tree up until sometime in January.  You will continue to hear Christmas songs on my playlist, though not as many.  I will still have Christmas on my mind, whether sharing the stories of this year or planning for the Christmas Season of next year.  And for the record, I'm going to try really hard next year not to let the commercialism of the shopping season determine how I will celebrate the birth of our Savior.

May peace on earth, good will to men last a little longer this coming year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

"Twas the Night Before Christmas and...

I have no idea what to do!

For the first time in 36 years I do not have a pre-planned Christmas Eve.  David and I usually find ourselves with family, but since Christmas is on Sunday and we are a definite part of the Sunday program... well.  Just doesn't make sense to go anywhere till after the program. 

It's odd.  I have been looking forward to this time of our lives so much and now I find myself at a complete loss! What to do on Christmas Eve.

So.  What do you do?  Fun family traditions?  Non-traditions?

I'm considering options but I really don't want it to be a "stay at home and clean the house" type of Saturday.  I want something special, just not quite sure what will fit the niche.

Needless to say, your suggestions are more than welcome.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

In all the earth is growing...

I love Christmas.  I love the feelings of warmth and joy that surround the season.  I love the tree and the lights and the songs and decor.  I love the white blanket of snow that covers up the "dead" of Fall.  I love that people are doing things for each other.  I love that it's a bit easier for each of us to feel a little less selfish and look out for the needs of others.  I love that we try to find ways to surprise the ones we love with the perfect gift.

At the same time it does get a little stressful.  The perfect gift is often quite hard to find and sometimes never makes itself known.  It's easy to fall into the trap of commercialism and think that maybe the simple Christmas that you have planned this year is kind of stupid.  That you should budget more or throw caution to the wind and stop worrying about how much to spend.  And then...

You stop.  Remember your goals.  Remember why the good feelings that come with Christmas are actually there.  In sacrament meeting today we sang "With Wondering Awe" for the closing hymn.  It's one of my favorites.  "With wond'ring awe the wise men saw The star in heaven springing, and with delight, in peaceful night, They heard the angels singing: Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to his name!"  I know that Christ is the reason for the season.  It is Him that makes this time of year so special. 

I have the privilege of leading the music in sacrament meeting every Sunday and I have really come to love it.  I have paid more attention to the words of the songs that ever before in my life.  I try to add expression to the words and feel in my heart what it coming out of my mouth.  "By light of star they traveled far To seek the lowly manger, A humble bed wherein was laid The wondrous little Stranger."  "The heav'nly star its rays afar On every land is throwing, And shall not cease till holy peace In all the earth is growing.  Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna to his name!"

The message of Christ, His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, is the light of that star.  Every year we get that reminder and it "shall not cease till holy peace in all the earth is growing."

This year we will have a simple Christmas.  We'll enjoy the lights and the music.  We'll give small gifts of love.  We'll skip the debt, the shopping mania and the stress.  We'll enjoy the company of family and friends and thank God for the gift of this season, the gift of good friends, the gift of forever families.  And most importantly we'll thank Him for the gift of His Son.