(previously posted 12/14)
Five days left!
That’s all folks, just five days till it’s here. Has your Jesus’ Birthday Shopping Season been merry and bright? Mine has been somewhat deflated. The flu kept me indoors for a couple of weeks, I’m still recovering. I got in trouble for decorating the tree by myself — Carolyn. She loves to decorate the tree but my memory has complaints attached to the project, I thought I was doing her a favor! Finances are snug, the accident has depleted some of our reserves (though that should resolve when the attorneys take over) so gift giving isn’t lavish this year, and it definitely rates on my love language meter. On the flip side, we had a family portrait taken for our 33rd anniversary (thanks kids), our cards and letter are out and my baking is near complete.
Success is measured in various waysOur kids are all working odd hours this season, one on Christmas night, 2 on Christmas Eve and Bruce actually has to go into work on the 26th…so our time together as a family is thwarted, yet again. I dream of a day when everyone’s work hours are synched around weekdays. A new twist is added this year, it will be the first Christmas Eve we’ve been by ourselves in 28 years. Our family tradition is to take the train downtown and see the windows at Macy’s, have lunch, shop, hear the bucket drummers, bell ringers, then come home when it gets dark while all the lights appear. We’ve kept it for about 13 yrs.
It varies from year to year. Sometimes ice skating is involved, in past years the American Girl Doll Store was a must. Once or twice we missed a year. We found in Illinois that more people had extended families to celebrate with than in past places we lived. Since all of our families were on the west coast and most of our local friends were committed to their relatives we used Christmas to build our own traditions. No regrets, but now it’s time for new traditions and I’m dragging my feet.
We are definitely living in a changing season of life. This season is a changing of our entire family dynamic and I have to admit, it’s a struggle for me. I find myself missing the past and I’m a pretty existential kinda gal, where I am is usually where I’m at. This year I’m missing those Christmas mornings with stockings to unpack, gifts to open and memories made with the girls. Often we never left our jammies, enjoying leftover foods or ordering Chinese. We watched the new movies and listened to music exchanged with each other. It was a day the girls had their dad’s complete attention and I could relax after all the buildup and planning to the big event.
This year the season is highlighting how little we’ve done outside our own four walls in the past 10 years. So many people have passed in and out of our lives. So many years we’ve fellowshipped with others for the holidays and always come away richer for it. But over the last 10 years we pulled back, investing in our kids’ educations, their lives and our own jobs. It wasn’t the wrong thing to do, it was necessary, but it left a void in our lives and this season is rudely exposing that space for me.
I’m diligently trying to find something Holiday for us to do on Christmas Eve. It has something we’d only do for the holiday and ourselves. It might mean going to a large shopping mall and browsing amidst the decorations, something I’ve avoided all season. It also might mean a nice lunch somewhere. It could involve a train ride downtown to a large movie theater that shows “White Christmas” at 2pm to sold out audiences. It could also involve attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service at the large Lutheran church where the train returns, to hear the traditional music with choir and orchestra. Enough of my music background was influenced by my Christian high school choir teacher, that I appreciate and enjoy a more traditional presentation at Christmas. If I could find a sing along Messiah we’d be there! Though we’ll miss Carolyn during the day we’ll have her that evening after work (the fun never ends at Starbucks). There will still be bubble bread to prepare for the morning, a couple of stockings to stuff, maybe a puzzle to assemble the next day, something with bright colors that I can frame and hang on my new office wall. There will probably even be face time calls with distant family–hopefully Mom Shaver can keep her iPad focused on faces rather than their ceiling this time…
So it’s time
New season of life, new people, new committments, new fellowship, all kinds of new things to explore. I have a feeling God will find them for us with minimum effort on our part. He’s good that way. We try to stay sensitive to his leading. One of the biggies on our list is finding a church. Since we’ve lived in Illinois we’ve been in several different churches, some good, some not, some now disbanded. Our hearts are ready, we want a place of belonging and fellowship. We also want a place that worships freely in the Spirit, something we’ve not found in our area. Our past experiences in Spirit led worship have tainted us, we’re dissatisfied with less. As my husband always says, time is his most valuable commodity and please don’t waste it on Sunday morning. He’d rather spend it going on a walk than to attend a church that doesn’t live up to it’s promise.
Whatever the case, we’re talking about a lot of newness coming our way in the new year and I’m more than ready! It’s a privilege to serve a God who is in the business of making all things new. It will be exciting to see what he does with our 2015.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!