(Written December 11, 2015)
We know that December follows November. Every year without fail it does that. So how in the Sam hill does it still manage to catch me by surprise? Every single time.
I hear myself say cliche things like, “Can you believe it’s December already?”.
Uh, yeah. It’s not like you don’t have some notice. Ya know…October, November, DECEMBER.
Maybe I should plug it in on my phone calendar. Have the first alert happen on, say, Halloween. Maybe the second one on the day after Thanksgiving. Title it “Helloooo you big cotton-headed ninny-muggins. It’s almost December”.
Still I would probably find myself saying, “Gosh it seems like it was just July. How can it already be December?” Maybe my internal clock is confused because sometimes December in Texas feels like July).
I’m five days past the first weekend in December, henceforth to be called “The Busiest Weekend I’ve Experienced in Eons”. I always think that busyness is relative. We’re all busy. We’re all as busy as we want to be. I like being busy, so no belly-aching here. Just stating a fact. I was a busy bee. There’s also the possibility that maybe I’m just not on my A-game anymore. Maybe I’m slipping. But who am I kidding? Me slipping? Not possible. However…. Okay. Let’s just not go there. And besides, it wasn’t anything a few days of post R&R with the maximum dosage of Ibuprofen, a heating pad and stout black coffee couldn’t take care of. So there.
Enough rabbit chasing.
So people were coming. Lots of people.
To my house.
It’s all part of holiday festivities in my town to raise money for local scholarship. Totally worth it and it was only right since my kids benefitted greatly from local scholarships.
The days leading up to it were a blur. Did I eat? Sleep? I can’t say for sure. I think I just cleaned. And cleaned. And put up a tree. And cleaned. There’s nothing like knowing other women will be in your home–some for the first time–to drive you into a cleaning frenzy. You know the little pull-out bin in your kitchen cabinets where trash cans live? Have you every looked behind and under those bins? Stuff lives there. Scary stuff. Sometimes fuzzy. But not at my house anymore. I’m happy to report that if you wanted to look there at my house today, I would happily show you. I told you….I was in a frenzy. A mad woman. I didn’t wash my hair for four days and I’m not even kidding.
But something magical happened on Friday.
It. Was. All. Done.
Well almost. Only the slobber stains from Pearl, the 130-pound Mastiff that lives with us, remained. Some stains soared to heights of 6 feet on my Sherwin Williams flat Requisite Grey walls. FLAT. No washing them. Only repainting. So yeah that didn’t happen. So we released it, and by “we” I mean Todd, my husband, released it. I just put on blinders.
So as I said, it was all done. Basically.
I’m a minimalist when it comes to Christmas decorating. Just touches here and there. Still it takes up space in my head as I plan. But I love it. Loathe the cleaning, but then comes the moment where I can put little pine cuttings with red berries (that I cut over Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law’s house) in little glass bottles that sit in my windows–of course I’m listening to my Johnny Mathis record. And sweating because it’s pushing 80 degrees outside and I have a sweater on.
Anyway. You don’t have to tell me that it’s kind of sappy. I know it. And still I love it. Judge if you must. Gag if you must, but it is my own little private joy party. You can come along if you like or not. Totally up to you. But if you come, bring candy canes.
My husband predicted I would be up half the night before the weekend started, but we laid our heads on our pillows at 10:30pm and drifted off to sleep.
At 5:30am I awoke with these thoughts.
I FORGOT TO WINDEX THAT AWFUL DRIP FROM THE WREATH THAT HANGS OVER THE MIRROR IN THE ENTRY WAY. I NEED TO ADD SOME GREENERY TO MY NAPKINS. WHERE IS THAT CANDLE I BOUGHT JUST FOR TODAY?
My eyes still weren’t open and already I was thinking. Working myself up.
I was lying in bed facing the window and the eastern sky when I finally opened my eyes. I was almost so busy in my head that I didn’t notice, but then I quit thinking for just a moment and saw something.
The sky was ever so slowly changing. Effortlessly it seemed. The canvas of black became slowly streaked with the faintest hint of pink and blue. Just a hint of it. Like the palest colors in a baby blanket. The sky was in no rush to get to the goal–a fully lit daytime sky. It took its time becoming–like it was relishing in the joy each second was bringing to anyone up early enough to see it. I think to myself how good is God that he would send daylight in such a way.
It’s not like I’ve never seen a sunrise before. But I had never seen that one. The one made for me.
I laid there and watched it until I was so captivated by it that I quietly got out of bed and fetched my camera. Barefoot and still in my pajamas I went out on the upstairs porch to get even closer to the sky–to the light that was softly landing on me.
I live right smack dab in the center of town. From my porch, I can see the soft awakening of things…the fog hovering just over the river that runs through the middle of town. I can see the bridge with just an occasional car passing over it. As I look at the bridge through my camera lens, I see a star. Not a real one, but one that has been hung in celebration of Christmas.
There was a time in my history when these December days were ones of “flitting about and fretting”, both internally and externally. Maybe some of that is unavoidable when there are little ones around, but now I have no excuse for falling prey to it. I admit the temptation is still there to conduct myself in a manner that is driven by commercialism-letting total strangers get inside my head. But you know what I really need—what I really want so much more than sweaters in every color from Old Navy at 30% off? I crave for the joy of this season to land softly on me.
Over and over again.
It’s likely only a few saw my sky that Saturday morning. I think I was supposed to be looking. I think the reminder perhaps saved December for me.
Those Saturday and Sunday mornings–the first ones of the month of advent–were for me the beautiful beginnings of a December that once again arrived sooner that I thought it would. All weekend I thought about the soft landing of that morning, resolving to be intentional about keeping the rest of them that way.
Candy bowls were filled. The tree was lit. Strangers and old friends and family came to visit. A french girl, too. The sound of children playing Christmas songs on an old piano filled a space that is otherwise silent. A small-town Christmas parade happened just outside my windows. A neighbor said, “Come on over anytime”. A young friend danced as a sugar plum fairy. A friend sat under the tree lights and drank hot tea with me. And at the end of it, my husband and I soaked in the quietness of the house and the fullness of the days.
Every bit of it landed on me softly because of the Saturday morning reminder to see it that way.
There are 14 more days until Christmas. I pray that every single one of them finds a soft landing on you and me.
God’s peace be with you all.