“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.” ~Anonymous
The house is decorated, santas and snowmen sitting on shelves, tabletops, and window sills. Gifts have been wrapped and tied with cheerful red and white string and hidden where prying eyes cannot see. The cookie baking and candy making has yet to begun but will be soon, very soon.
The waiting has begun.
Last weekend our daughter and her partner visited, and on Saturday we went to pick out the tree. The choosing of the tree is usually a difficult negotiation with our middle child. She, the only daughter who lives in the states and, therefore, spokesperson for her sisters, prefers white pines, the bushier the better. Her father and I favor a more traditional tree, preferably fraser, with a slimmer physique. This year we compromised, settling on a fir tree which was neither bush nor twig. Bringing it home, we set it up in the living room, adorned it with lights, and began the hanging of ornaments.
So many memories come flooding back during this time. Ornaments from my parents’ home remind me of the Christmas when my mother and I baked sugar cookies, the aroma of vanilla and brown sugar filling the house with cheer. My mother would press a straw through the top of each cookie, then thread a red ribbon through it to hang on the tree.
The (sort of) ugly jack-in-the-box ornament, a gift from my father during our annual Christmas in July dinner we would celebrate in Nantucket, hangs jauntily from a branch, while Santa, sitting in a boat with a bag of toys and a Christmas tree, is pulled by a whale, our yearly Nantucket Sleigh Ride.
The doily Winnie-the-Pooh ornaments made by our daughters, hiking Santas, golfing Santas and Mrs. Claus doing needlework, all have stories to tell, as do the peacock and her child, and the multitude of cardinals that dot the tree from head to toe.
So many stories.
It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope."
~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
I love the season of advent, perhaps even more than Christmas itself. It is a time of both reflection and anticipation. I turn inwards during these four weeks and meditate on the trials and blessings of the past year, and the lessons I have learned from each. Candles are lit as night falls, cups of hot tea prepared throughout the day, soft afghans never far from my lap. It is a quiet time, which suits me, with days spent in cheery preparation of the holiday.
We have already received an early Christmas gift, which is the imminent arrival of our youngest daughter who is flying home for the holidays from Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia. We did not think she would be able to join us this year, because of the distance and demands of her job, but she surprised us a few weeks ago with the news and so we wait in eager anticipation.
One by one our girls will arrive, the youngest first, followed by her oldest sister and partner a week later and, finally, our Brooklyn girl. Our home and hearts will be full of joy and love; it is so rare that we have all three girls home at the same time.
We will make and decorate sugar cookies, watch It’s a Wonderful Life and read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. We will celebrate with family and friends and miss our loved ones who can no longer be with us. We will reflect on Christmas past, count our blessings, and make wishes for the future.
Advent says, ‘Wake up and realize the gifts of love you have received.’ ~ Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem.
I want to thank each of you for joining me here in my little corner of the world, and wish for you a holiday season filled with the love of family and friends, peace and joy. It means so much to me that you continue to visit! I am grateful.
I will see you in the New Year!