I know it sounds crazy to those of you "sunbirds" who crave long sunlit days on warm, toasty beaches but I love this time of year. I already put up my Christmas tree- not because I'm so intensely fond of Christmas Day but because I am so intensely warmed by this fall/holiday season. There is so much depth to this time of year and the snow really guides me in that journey.
Awaiting the birth of our Savior (and yes, I know Jesus wasn't really born in December and that we are meshing a pagan holiday with a religious one... I know, just go with me) seems to take on more reflection in the silence of snow. I have loved how snow sucks up sound as long as I can remember. It truly does- suck it up, absorb, drown, still, silence, muffle, deafen ALL sound- I love it. I feel like my brain moves so fast all the time, taking everything in, trying to control everything, making sure all my "ducks are in a row" that sometimes, that forced quiet is the most blessed sound.
This season, fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas, is the height of family nesting for me. It's soups and stews in crockpots, fires in the fireplace, snuggly fleece pj's, hot cocoa or cider with my sweetie, an extra blanket on our bed, and slippers. It's sneaking in to cover Gemma with a warm blanket, feeling her little neck to make sure she's warm enough. It's warmth and everything that goes along with it. It's a very reflective time for me- I think about my family, my child(ren) and all the things I want to do with them in the future. I think about traditions and activities, practices and remembrances I want to instill in my family. Abe and I have talked about it but we haven't really defined what we want our "family practices" to look like in regards to the holidays. There are certain things we'd like to do and will, we're just not sure if Gemma is old enough yet. There is always the argument that if you start young, they'll never know anything different.
We'd really like to serve every holiday- either in a soup kitchen, or in some concrete, tangible way partnered with a local organization or our church to make lasting connections between gratitude, service, and celebration. My husband is especially passionate about this as he was the recipient of service like this as a child.
We've talked about how to really make the Christmas Story meaningful to our kids. How do we make Christmas really honor the beautiful gift of a Savior? I've heard so many wonderful ideas- advent calendars, nightly readings of the Christmas story from different sources- children's Bibles, books, different Bible translations; Nativity scenes. But really, the most tangible example of the reality of Christ is in the example of the parents, right? Humbling, huh?
And then there's Santa, presents, and the hoopla that goes along with the commercialized Christmas. How do we give our family the innocent joy of gifts and giving without making them greedy? How do we introduce Santa knowing that someday, we may have to break a child's heart with a grown-up truth?
As much as I love, love, love this time of year, the truth is- I love whatever forces me to reflect and focus on my family. For me, that's a forced indoor retreat. It's bundling up and cuddling together; it's eating warm food together, lighting candles that smell like Apple Pie, and reading stories under hushed covers. Truth is, I can do this any time of year, but this season inspires me.
What about you? What are your happy family traditions around this time of year? If you hate winter, what do you do to make this season meaningful? And by season, I mean this whole Fall-Thanksgiving-Christmas season.
I really hope that you are bundled up, warm, safe, and surrounded by your loved ones this lovely time of year.
waiting for snow and all it brings...
Christmas is coming
Salvation Army bells are ringing
Christmas is coming
Do you believe in Angels singing?
the snow is falling
falling like forgiveness from the sky.
- "Darlin' (Christmas is Coming)"
Over the Rhine