With the bustle and craziness of Christmas preparations over, finally this morning I have some quiet time to rewind the season in my mind. I have always loved the day after Christmas, perhaps even more than the day itself -- the work is over, and the memories are there to savor. This year, the holiday season was less than wonderful. There were worries and issues that kept me from throwing myself wholeheartedly into the preparations. However, the house was decorated, gifts purchased and wrapped, food prepared, and joy received from the simple old traditions.
How lovely the house looks in its Christmas finery each year. I enjoy the process of finding just the right place for my special decorations. This year, I placed a trifle dish in the center of my dining room table and filled it with my grandmother's lovely old glass balls, which I remember her gently hanging on her tree each year. Each time I have looked at my centerpiece, I have been reminded of her loving presence throughout my childhood.
One early December afternoon, my sister-in-law came out to decorate a gingerbread house with Emma -- we had time together to talk and relax, and Emma loved the candies and icing. Later, Alivia and Luke decorated their own gingerbread houses -- how lovely they all looked.
We enjoyed an early Sunday dinner with my father-in-law and brother-in-law early in the season -- a quiet afternoon of wine, food, and good conversation.
Alivia's other grandmother and I attended a book fair/luncheon at her school -- she wanted me to bring tea sandwiches. We bought books, ate our special little lunch, and felt fortunate to spend this brief hour together.
The week before Christmas was one of illness for my little ones -- stomach bugs and strep infections took their toll; how sad it is when these energetic children are lethargic and unwell.
Christmas Eve dawned clear and cold, and my daughter and I spent the day in the kitchen preparing our contributions to Christmas dinner. In the late afternoon, we attended the Children's Christmas Service at church, with part of our family -- the sanctuary filled with candles and the voices and talents of children.
The lights were dimmed and we all held candles as we sang my favorite carol, "Silent Night", in the semi-darkness of a late-December afternoon. How beautiful!!
On Christmas Day we all gathered at my oldest son's house -- a day of excited children, a beautiful and bountiful table, extended family (four generations of my husband's family), laughter, warmth and love. By the time we arrived back home in the evening, my body was exhausted, but my heart was full.
And today, I woke with the knowledge that there was no "to-do" list, no schedule, nothing but time to be thankful for the beautiful Christmas we all shared, and to ponder the memories of this December. Sometimes we are so busy with the details of this blessed holiday, we lose the spirit of the season. After all the gifts are opened, the meals finished, and the children tucked into bed for the night, we finally have the time to appreciate the true gift of Christmas -- the love of family and friends, and the birth of our Savior on that cold night in that tiny stable in Bethlehem.