Have you ever read the small book, A Bird's Christmas Carol? It's not what you'd think it would be and is so sweetly sad that I tear-up every time I read it. My late mother loved this story and I remember her reading it to me when I was a child. It's another reminder about gratitude and remembering others much less fortunate than us during this time of year, yes of course, but also during the whole year through.
I absolutely LOVE Christmas!
There's much humbugging of late about the over-commercialization of Christmas, the stressed nature of the holiday season, the grumpy customers and glut of traffic and so forth and so on however... if you streamline this time of the year down to what is most important and most significant, well then, it's actually a really wonderful life we're living after all isn't it?
We have much to be thankful for and if you don't think so please, by all accounts, go and spend some time in an underdeveloped country's underdeveloped areas to gain a little postmodern perspective about gratitude. Gratitude is an attitude and a daily affirmation to enjoy employing at Christmas most especially as ole' Scrooge aptly learned in A Christmas Carol.
My very favorite part of all of the holiday season is the Christmas Eve church service. Growing up and now with growing ever so more middle-aged, this special time is what I look forward to most of all each and every year. The hymns and carols, the scripture readings, the closeness of sitting in a congregation together worshipping, praising and being in awe of the mercy and beauty that God has given us... exiting out at midnight or later into the cold of the evening with a Merry Christmas warmth in one's heart, here indeed is the true spirit of Christmas!
The one thing I do miss this time of the year so keenly is having a fireplace in the house to return to and gather around. Until now, each house James and I have had included within the living rooms a large fireplace complete with a hearth that could seat a couple of cozy-minded folks. Especially out on the mountainside of Park City, Utah, having a fireplace going was incredibly wonderful. The snow, the skiing, the wintery walk back up to our darling miner's cottage from the Christmas Eve service still carrying our lit candles with us... the Christmas we had out there in Utah is still James and my favorite of all of our Christmases so far. It couldn't have been more iconic and more spirit-filled fulfilling and such a total blast too with skiing all Christmas Day away together.
Here out on the island, this house sadly does not include a fireplace. Even the great river porch right off of the livingroom cannot make up for the lack of a fireplace. So, where do we hang our stockings? Well, maybe it can't get much preppier than, "if you don't have a mantle, a sideboard will do." And so, our stockings have been hung with care on the diningroom's sideboard: one for James, one for Kanon, one for Daddy and one for me. Needlepoint stockings with old fashioned themes and no names spread across the top of them though actually monograms may have been a nice classic touch to include, haha!
Our Christmas decor' features lots of deep reds, silver and gold tones, greenery everywhere, tiny white lights, tartan n' brocade ribbons and always, the main tree decorated in a religious theme with a secondary tree done in an antique/antiqued bird ornamanent theme. We have a bit of an affinity for birds I guess. We enjoy two of them, Beau and Brummel (of the chattering-classes and fine feathers) inside plus resident peacocks, quail coveys, owls and the occassional hawk outside as well as of course various song birds that like to visit our yard. Bluebirds take up our bird houses and a cardinal family seems to enjoy nesting in our lemon tree. Also, the ever-present herons out in the marsh reeds off of our yard of course.
Last year we had a huge literal month-long Christmas with hosting both of my brother's families, another family from Australia and family who came in from North Carolina as well. We rented a large house right on the beach, put up a tall tree and did a very kid-friendly n' centered Christmas holiday. This year it's back to a quiet, cozily-cloistered island retreat contexting for our holiday season and I am really enjoying this... especially after just finishing up graduate school and also at the same time beginning a new job. My treasured Christmas gift this year is graduating next week up at UNCG with all-A's in a Masters of Humanities degree. I think I'll tie with a big red bow my diploma cover and set it up on the ole' sideboard... whatever Santa drops into my stocking's gonna' seem quite secondary to this...
Best of all is the gift God sent humanity as His ultimate Merry Christmas. And with that in mind, with much gratitude and joyous merriment, I wish you all this year a very merry Christmas!