Be Here Now


I'm a mashed-up tin of frosted Christmas cookies this year.  I'm the broken shards of ornaments you unearthed from the attic, that maybe you can make into a mosaic or something.  Point is, I'm all over the place this December.  Making a long trip over Thanksgiving threw me off my Advent game, both practically and emotionally, and I still haven't regained the ball.

This is what I know: a strict observance of Advent is good.  (i.e. making space for Christ through silence, reading, meditation, slowness, and caring for others)  And a joyful observance of Christmas all December is good.  (i.e. decorating, winking at children, looking for lights, buying gifts, and caring for others)  These weeks can look a thousand different ways and still be good; the trouble I'm having is figuring out what is good for my family right now.  And what maybe can wait until next year.  (I'm looking at YOU, "hanging all the lights up on St. Lucia day".  You were planned for yesterday and we remain lightless on the 14th.)

When we got home from Thanksgiving, we were all in a slump.  Advent roared right ahead without even stopping to pat us on the shoulder, and I was whiplashed and homesick.  The last thing I wanted to do was dig out the Advent/Christmas bin and deck the halls.  But then Lori posted this, and the bags under my eyes hung a little lighter.  I knew what I had to do.

I don't own a fancy camera (and by fancy I mean... a real camera) and am always happy with just using my iphone until I try to do a post like this.  Can you just agree to believe that it looks better in person?  Then we can carry on.

I was going to make my own (surely hideous) stockings and then I realized it was December and I didn't want to.  So.  A little Etsy tourism and voila, I found sweet grandma Cindi and her penchant for crochet in Katy, Texas who churned six of these puppies out (because: one to grow on) and mailed them two days later.

"5" because there really are five of us but fetuses only get their stockings hung if they will actually be making an appearance during Advent or Christmastide as established in the case of Evans v. Christmas Mantle, 2013.

The diminutive cinnamon bark reindeer was a wild and crazy Cyber Monday purchase at the Ten Thousand Villages website.  When he arrived at my doorstep, I had just pulled out this guy from the Christmas storage:

There is a 90% chance that I got him from Ten Thousand Villages last Cyber Monday.  I don't know how this happens.  Do I need an intervention between me and quirky reindeer?

I got the Haitian nativity at a local brick and mortar store, but it might be found at Ten Thousand Villages as well.  (Maybe it's not the reindeer who are the problem...)

Snatched up that crocheted blanket at the thrift store this summer because of course I did.

We got our live tree (we can't do it any other way) before St. Nicholas Day and like I said, were going to string up the lights on St. Lucia's Day (a martyr and "the saint of light") yesterday but she's still bare and proud.  Or bare and embarrassed about it, I admit I haven't asked.  We usually hang the ornaments on Christmas Eve day.  Before you throw stones and yell SCROOGE at me, it is a crazy fun time to do it, builds the Christmas anticipation beautifully, and stays up for 12 more days which is more than long enough when small children are trying to hurl glass balls and poop tinsel.  Long e. nuff.

Speaking of St. Nick, he came on December 6th and left little goodies inside the boys' shoes under the tree.  Connection to the church throughout history is important to us and is something we want to pass on to our children.  We are not part of an ahistorical church; we want them to be emboldened and inspired by Christ followers who have lived and died for two thousand years and in order for that to happen they have to actually know about them.

Poor flattened-out, hand me down couch, you have borne us well.  We love you even if your britches are saggy.

Since I covered every square inch of mantle space with every Christmas-inspired tchotchke that I own, the rest of the house got slim trimmings.  Ce la vie.

I love this handmade bamboo nativity set we got in Indonesia years ago.  I don't love that my children keep lobbing heads off wise men and goats.  There are some precarious situations going on in this picture, my friends.

Those are the beeswax candles that we made and I bet you would have never guessed that we rolled them ourselves.  The two wonkies on the right are my favorites.

This December finds me lonely, yearning, yet thankful for so much.  We live in the tension of the already/not yet and no season makes me feel it more than this one.  There are words we can speak or write, there are songs we can hear or pen, but at the end of the day the most powerful response is to open up and be here now.

I guess that's what I'm trying to do, just be present to the longing and present to the joy.  O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Someday, the light will shine like a sun through my skin & they will say, 'what have you done with your life?' & though there are many moments I think I'll remember, in the end, I will be proud to say, I was one of us.

(Brian Andreas, Storypeople)