So. I have had a little time to unscramble my brain. Let's try a post with more than just random lists of things.
We are enjoying our Christmastide, on the heals of a rich Advent season this year. It felt full, but not too full. We had a nice mix of sacred and silly of quiet and noisy. We got to try out some things that may become traditions for our family, and see how that worked. And I think we struck a nice balance of my Spazzy the Elf Christmas Traditions For Everything and MM's need for unstructured, spontaneous living. There's been lots of smiling (smiling's my favorite) and hugging and "thank you"ing - very grateful for every good and perfect gift, keenly aware of how blessed we are, and how painful this season can be when you are hungry, lonely, sick, or grieving.
And to capture this for the future, here's what we did for Advent:
Hanging of the Greens
I talked about this before. And then showed some pictures.
We intended to decorate Thanksgiving weekend and keep the stuff up til Twelfth Night, but our tree died. So, I took down the big tree, hauled it outside, and put up our tiny fake tree for the rest of the season. It is sparkly and festive in the corner of the dining room.
I also took a strand of lights from the big tree and wove them into the garland on the mantle.
Our heater blew out a couple days before Christmas, so we've been using the fireplace a lot, and its been so cozy and beautiful in our front room between the fire, candles, and colored twinkle lights. I don't have all the words for this, but more and more, I realize that the physical beauty of my space does something wonderful inside my heart. And for me, it was especially powerful to decorate together and create beauty together.
I imagine that next year, we'll figure out a game plan. This year we chose to emphasize blue for advent, and to only hang sentimental ornaments on our tree. Next year, we might do things differently. Maybe we'll go back to just the tiny tree. Or finally suck it up and put up lights outside.
We downloaded an advent devotional from a presbyterian church and every morning at breakfast we read that day's essay. Some were good. Some were lame. Some were "meh." But in all it was an interesting peak into a congregation's thoughts on this season of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Originally, our house church was going to all do the same devotional, but we ended up doing different things in our households, which was cool too.
I'm thinking next year, we might go ahead and invest in a book of some sort. Something a little more than "meh." Like this.
The other thing we did was get those 99 cent advent calenders from Trader Joes and eat a chocolate after reading our daily essay. Neither of us grew up with advent calenders, and we got a kick out of doing this.
The chocolates weren't particularly good, but that was part of the fun. Twice, we ended up with the same figurine on the same day, so we cheersed and hurrahed. Most of the time we couldn't figure out what the shapes actually were. "Cthulhu?" "A gremlin?" "Are these stockings? Or maybe caterpillars?"
I'm sure next year, we'll look for something with fair trade, slave-free, blah blah blah, super-delicious dark chocolate, but I will kind of miss our cheesy Trader Joe's calendars.
So, this may sound weird, but eggnog was kind of an advent thing for us. MM loves eggnog. Like, looooooves it. So much so that he has said, in public: "If I could figure out how to drink eggnog, non-stop, without having to breathe or pee, I would."
Instead, he wisely chose to limit eggnog consumption to one quart (of the very best from a local ice-creamery) a week, drunk one tiny, swanky swig at a time. We started on Thanksgiving, and will go til New Years. It's been fun to come out to breakfast to see little eggnogs. Chocolate and Eggnog for breakfast! Whoopie!
(We postponed our blood sugar and cholesterol tests til late January. Ahem.)
This worked well, but next year, we'll see where we are with our health goals and needs and figure out the right eggnog plan.This is an important part of Christmas for MM, and I hope to figure out ways to enjoy eggnog each year.
Each night at dinner we'd light that week's advent candles, and keep them burning throughout the evening. On Christmas Eve we lit the Jesus candle, and have burned all of them every night since.
The plan is to keep burning them throughout Christmastide and into Epiphany til they burn out. Hope finally konked out on us last night, and we think Joy is next.
The giant pillars were perfect for us, so we'll probably do the same size next year, if we have the same furniture setup.
Next post I'll share a bit about our weekly gatherings and specific events and celebrations.