I had planned on writing a longer, more thoughtful Christmas post, wrapping up all of my feelings about this season, this year. But here we are, on the 26th, and I'm scrambling to piece together a few words while Theo takes his afternoon nap.
Expectations. I put expectations on myself and then I am disappointed in myself when I don't meet them. Perhaps some of you are like that, too? You all didn't know I was planning a Christmas post. And if I had never put one up, you wouldn't have missed it. But, years later, I would have missed those words I wanted to write, thoughts I wanted to share. Because really, although this space is for YOU, it's also for me. I work things out here. Share my family, my thoughts, my fears and dreams, my kitchen. And I hope that the sharing makes all of our lives a little better.
Grace. Because this season is all about grace, isn't it? So, I give myself grace to write a few imperfect words to capture what I'm feeling this Christmas.
First, so much joy.
Joy that Elie has wholeheartedly embraced this holiday and helps to make our home festive and bright. He encourages gathering with our friends, attends church and is the best gift-giver. Elie didn't grow up with Christmas, and he could have been resistant. But, he knows it's important to me and so he makes it important to him. Just one of the other million reasons I am so blessed to be married to him.
Joy for Theo, for the first inkling of excitement and anticipation of this season. Every morning, Theo came downstairs searching for 'Apple,' his elf, who he named all by himself. He shook presents, and we read book after book about Santa and elves, about reindeer and snowmen, about giving, and about a baby in a manger. He loved opening presents on Christmas day and was a joyful receiver. I can only anticipate the excitement in years to come.
Thankfulness. Thankfulness for my mom, who lives right next door and is so much a part of our daily life and our celebrations. For Elie's family, who we get to spend so much time with. For my family, who even though I don't get to see often, is so much a part of my heart and my memories of Christmas. For our community and friendships, and friends who feel like family. Instead of having a big party this Christmas, we spent intentional time with friends, getting to sit and talk, eat cookies and connect, in ways that parties don't always allow. Thankfulness for the simple certainty that we will have soft beds and warm blankets and nourishing food and a loving and safe home. During this season, I've been thinking about those who don't have that same constance in their lives.
There's also an underlying sadness that accompanies this season. I expect I'm not alone in this. Longing for family no longer with us, but those memories of them so close. For friends who have passed and are deeply missed and for friendships lost or changed. For illness. For aging. For suffering and loss. For wanting to hold so tightly to the memory of the way things were once, and the way that I imagine them again.
We all went to church together on Christmas Eve morning. As the pastor told the Christmas story, one we've heard over and over again, he described each of the characters and their role in the story, how the story would have been different if any of them had made different decisions. He ended with asking, "What is your story?"
I'm not sure if I'm asking it in the same way he meant, but the question resonated with me. What is my story?
What is my story? What talents and gifts do I have to share? And when? And how? What is my message? How is what I say or think or feel different? What can I contribute? To this space, and to my community.
At Christmas Eve dinner that evening, I gave the blessing, thanking God for such abundance in our lives, for joy and grace and love, and asking Him to help us to be good, be kind and be thoughtful about What is our story?
This is the question I will be thinking about over these next few weeks, as I review my intentions for 2017 and set new intentions for 2018. Perhaps it's a powerful question for you as well.
What is your story?
I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas and a joyful start to 2018. Over the next week, I will be setting intentions here, so visit if you need inspiration of your own. In the meantime, Happy New Year!