Friday, December 09, 2011

methinks perhaps crafters are crazy

This is my "never-again" Advent calendar.
I got inspired to make this from a photo that someone had posted on Facebook. It was a photo from a craft store ad. That should've tipped me off to avoid this project! I've seen all these creative Advent ideas--mostly on blogs and Etsy--of Advent muslin drawstring pouches, Advent bags hung on cute little clips, Advent boxes hanging down as a strip of garland. Now I know these people are crazy. What happens when I do a project is that my house, the laundry, and all other priorities aside from my job go to hell while I produce my one little whoop-dee-doo-da.

I don't know why I ever thought it would be fun to do this. It was fun for maybe the first seven boxes. But there are 24 days leading up to Christmas, not seven. And that means 24 little gifts or handwritten certificates for fun extras (watch a Christmas special, play a game of your choice with Dad, 15 minutes of pillow-fighting, etc.) That's like stuffing five stockings, except you can't just stuff them into a stocking. Nope, you have to find things to fit each container or write a note that says: "Ask for the present that goes in #9 because it doesn't fit." It takes time, thought and money. It's also a puzzle. I had fun finding the little gifts, but I'm over it now.

My mom sent us 24 miniature Advent books that tell the Christmas story, so I wanted to contain them in a cute way, to be opened each day. At least the calendar is done now. And I can reuse it next year, if I can stand to go through the present part again. I am one big Grinch. I just want to get to the part of Christmas where there's time off and no more preparation or stuff. Pajamas, hot cocoa and a cozy fire are all I want.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Christmas Meditation

 Somehow the quiet light of Christmas always finds me, even when I have forgotten to look for it, or have despaired of finding it in the jingle-jingle tidal wave of the holiday season. In December, I always end up feeling like I'll need to be carried into Christmas on a stretcher, next to all my fallen holiday aspirations, my visions of sugar plums marred by stress and fatigue and burnout. And all I'm doing is trying to make it to the last week of the year without crumbling like a Christmas sugar cookie, patched together with frosting because one pan of cookies burned and the others broke and it was too late to make more dough and try again.

And then it happens: the true light that came into the world casts its soft glow in my heart. Ever so quietly, ever so kindly, ever so faithfully, the light finds me and softly bathes me to prepare me to behold the Christmas miracle: The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
(John 1:9)

It always happens at night when it's quiet and I'm alone. It happens when I'm listening to soft, sacred music in the low light, taking pen to Christmas card to write my love, pen stroke by pen stroke, to family and friends, pausing to recollect each one, while images of them dance in my memory. All of a sudden, some portion of the Jesus narrative from Scripture takes hold of my heart and I am transported with wonder at the goodness and persistence of His light shining through the ages. He was the long-expected one.

Simeon, a devout old man at the time of Jesus' birth, was waiting for the consolation of Israel. And upon holding that consolation in his arms, he was ready to depart this life in peace:
"For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation,
which thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of my people Israel." (Luke 2:28)

That's all he needed, just to see Jesus, just to know that the consolation, the light and the glory had arrived in the flesh, safe and sound.

Simeon knew the light was coming because it had been foretold by the prophets. He knew the light would shine on all the generations to come, long after he had departed. It was all he needed to know. It was all he needed to anticipate. It was all he needed, period. And now that it had finally come, he could go in peace.

That selfsame light of the world is all I need to know, and I am so thankful that it finds the way to my heart more surely than Santa finds the way to my house. It finds me without fail in the midst of all that is merry and bright, or wearisome and overwhelming, and it shines its faithful, persistent light as though Simeon himself had passed me a candle during the Silent Night.